Former presidential candidate Winston Tubman has said the controversial Code of Conduct cannot be invoked to prevent anyone from participating in the October 10 Presidential and general elections.
Cllr. Tubman, who was Standard Bearer of the Congress for Democratic Change (CDC) in the 2011 presidential election, made the statement in an article published in a local daily Wednesday despite the majority vote by Justices of the Supreme Court declaring the Code “legal, binding and compliant with the Constitution of Liberia."
The High Court’s March 3 decision has become controversial because a number of candidates could be barred from contesting the election for alleged contravention of Section 5.2 (a) of the Code which states that any official of government desirous of contesting elections must resign two years prior to the elections.
Section 5.2 (b) of the Code of Conducts states that officials of government appointed by the president, holding tenured positions and desirous of contesting elections must resign three years before the elections.
However, in his article, Cllr. Tubman said the Supreme Court’s decision on the Code does not affect the rights of citizens to participate in elections, adding that such rights “flow to Liberian citizens from the Constitution” and not qualified by the Code.
Tubman argued that nowhere in its judgment does the Supreme Court exclude people from participating in elections, noting, “It does provide that if people are to be sanctioned, it can only happen after due process has been followed.”
He said if someone is to be excluded from the elections which according to him is not one of the sanctions under the Code, it must first be established through due process that the person participated in what he is accused of.
The renowned lawyer cited, as an example, the ‘Truth and Reconciliation Commission’ (TRC) which examined the alleged roles of people in crimes committed during the war of which specified punishments were meted out.
Tubman stated that the Supreme Court prohibited such punishments from being carried out, because those findings and punishments had not been arrived at through due process.
“The issues were never whether the acts alleged were done, but whether the punished persons had benefited from due process before being sentenced,” he pointed out…..By this same reasoning, it is not enough to allege that someone had the intention to run for an office, but that allegations must be established by due process.”, he added
Tubman stated that if due process was lacking, then no basis exists for inflicting punishment which, in any case, cannot go outside what is set out in the Code of Conduct.
Tubman said that if one of the aims of the Code is to protect government resources, by the time the elections come around those resources would have already been used.
Tubman furthered that many officials other than those named in the Code would have benefited from state resources.
He argued that barring all of them from the elections “makes no sense” and would only punish and deprive the state, adding that “in any case, excluding persons from elections is not one of the prescribed punishments for infringement of the CoC (Code of Conduct).”, he maintained.