Specifically, section 5.2 of the code of conduct for public officials states: Wherein, any person in the category stated in section 5.1…desires to canvass or contest for an elective public position, the following shall apply:
a). Any minister, deputy Minister, director general, managing director and superintendent appointed by the President pursuant to article 56(a) of the constitution and a Managing Director appointed by the Board of Directors, who desires to contest for public elective office shall resign said post at least two (2) years prior to the date of such public elections;
b). Any other official appointed by the President who holds a tenured position and desires to contest for public elective office shall resign said position three (3) years prior to the date of such elections;
c). However, in the case of impeachment, death, resignation or disability of an elected official, any official listed above, desirous of canvassing or contesting to fill such position must resign said position within thirty days following the declaration of the National Elections Commission of the vacancy;
The timing for resignation three years and two years for the two categories of the public officials was the crux of the controversy. Many Liberians consulted are of the view that resigning two or three years is not fair to the public official. It deprives the person of lawful means of earning just because of his or her political ambition.
It even goes against the rationale of promoting fair play in precluding the leveraging of undue advantage on the part of the office holders intending to contest elections. It is therefore an overly protective democratic safeguard, which begs for review and reconstructing to make it more agreeable to all and sundry.
What then is the reasonable time for public official desirous to run for elective office? The question was subject to consultation by the civil society driven reform process initiated by the Elections Coordinating Committee.
The period of six months has been inserted in the amendment proposition submitted to the legislature.
By all stretch of imagination somebody resigning six months prior to his declaration of intent to run for elective office is very unlikely to amass official entitlements in running campaign. Beyond that what the ECC amendment proposition does is to avoid the legal interpretation controversies that have beset the initial application of the law.