Bishop Hart, ICLThe Government of Liberia is endeavoring to ensure a peaceful electoral process that will subsequently culminate in a smooth transition for the first time in over 40 years. To accomplish that objective, a two-day national political forum is scheduled to be held beginning today, Wednesday, May 31, at the Monrovia City Hall.The forum appears to be an effort to diffuse the tremendous tension generated in the country since the upholding of the constitutionality of the Code of Conduct (CoC) by the Supreme Court of Liberia.The two-day event with all political parties in the country, except the All Liberian Party of Benoni Urey, is aimed at having them commit to the maintenance of peace in the country. The ALP said in a statement that it does not trust the government of Liberia supporting the forum because of its many violations that have muddled the playing field and hurt other political parties.The opposition All Liberia Party (ALP) has objected to being a part of the forum and said it would not attend.The ALP, in a statement to Bishop Hart, president and chairman of the steering committee of the Interreligious Council of Liberia, said the premise of the forum is “unduly redundant, in light of the fact that there is already an Inter-Party Consultative Committee at the National Elections Commission, which addresses these identical issues that are being raised.“We have, and always shall remain committed to the preservation of peace and stability in our country,” said the letter dated May 24 and signed by J.S.B. Theodore Momo, Jr., national chairman of the party.“The ALP is resolved not to participate in any forum designed by this government. Moreover, we discern the handiwork of unpatriotic Liberians, who have perennially masterminded acts of constitutional abuses.”Many opposition leaders believe that the intent of the forum is to find common ground on the Supreme Court’s ruling on the CoC.The Supreme Court upheld the Code of Conduct, a ruling that has given rise to public skepticism about the qualifications of some presidential aspirants to participate in the elections.Part V, Section (1) a, b, and c, of the Code of Conduct bars executive appointees – government officials appointed by the President – from seeking elected office. It states that those who want to run for elected office should resign two or three years ahead of the elections.Many opposition parties have complained about what they see as “the blatant violation of the CoC” by the ruling Unity Party with Minister of Information, Cultural Affairs and Tourism, Len Eugene Nagbe, and other top officials serving simultaneously in key positions of the UP.However, at a recent press stakeout during the visit of Ghanaian President Nana Akufo Addo, President Sirleaf was reported to have said that “All Liberians will participate and will exercise their choice. And I believe that our leaders, our political candidates, will all be a part of it and will ensure that the process is successfully conducted, allowing Liberians for the first time in 48 years to make a transition from one elected president to another elected president.”A member of the secretariat of the organizing committee confirmed to the Daily Observer that the forum is aimed at securing a path of peace throughout the election process.“We are expecting the political leaders of all of the parties to be in attendance and commit themselves to a violence free electoral process. Also expected to attend are members of various Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), traditional leaders and members of the diplomatic community.”The forum is being organized by the Interreligious Council of Liberia in collaboration with the Governance Commission (GC) with support from the central government and other partners.It may be recalled that President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, while delivering her final State of the Nation address in January, proposed holding a two-day electoral forum, appointing the Chairman of the Governance Commission, Amos C. Sawyer, to lead the process.The President at the time described the ensuing elections as the greatest test of Liberia’s democracy. “As we prepare to start campaigning in a few months, I propose a two-day electoral forum, with all political parties and registered independent presidential candidates, to discuss issues pertaining to the electoral process and arrive at a common ground for the campaign and its aftermath,” she said.“I have asked Dr. Amos Sawyer to convene the meeting. Apart from having played a leading role in crafting the current Constitution, he presided over the interim arrangement and has served as election monitor in multiple places on the continent. He will be the best person to lead such a process. As soon as we work out logistics, in the next few days, Dr. Sawyer will be asked to proceed.”Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)
SANTA ANA – Orange County Sheriff Mike Carona, his wife and alleged former mistress pleaded not guilty today in Santa Ana to corruption- related counts. Carona and his wife, Deborah, and Debra Victoria Hoffman appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge Marc Goldman, who set a trial date of Dec. 18. But attorneys said outside the courthouse that the case, stemming from a three-year investigation, is complicated and the trial may not begin before August. Outside court, Carona — who has refused to resign — said: “Obviously there will be a portion of my time that will need to be devoted to defending myself in this legal action. I am prepared, and members of my staff are prepared to give me the support to be able to have the time to accomplish that goal. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREStriving toward a more perfect me: Doug McIntyre “You have to understand the Orange County Sheriff’s Department is a well-structured, well-designed organization with a very solid command team,” Carona continued. “I have been meeting with the undersheriff and the assistant sheriffs since this indictment was unsealed, talking about exactly how we will run the department during this difficult time. “Understand that we have a plan,” Carona said. “I will roll that out for you this week. I will not be resigning. There are constitutional responsibilities that can only be handled by me as the sheriff. The day-to-day operations can be handled by the undersheriff and the assistant sheriffs within the department. “In fact, that’s what happens on an on-going basis,” he said. The plan will detail “how I’ll run the department, how we’ll run the department and how I’ll be able to free my time up to be able to do that. “I’m not resigning because I’m not guilty,” he said, adding, “I’m going back to work.” Carona and his wife are free on $20,000 each. Hoffman is free on $10,000 bond. Carona, his wife and Hoffman are each charged with one count of conspiracy. Carona and Hoffman — described by authorities as the sheriff’s longtime mistress — also are charged with four counts each of mail fraud depriving the public of the right of honest services of a public official. Carona additionally faces a count of witness tampering, and Hoffman is charged with three counts of bankruptcy fraud. The three are accused of using the sheriff’s office to enrich themselves by accepting cash payments, a vacation in Lake Tahoe and access to the private plane and yacht of businessman Don Haidl. Haidl, who lacked law enforcement qualifications, was named an assistant sheriff after Carona was elected, court papers alleged. Authorities further allege that Carona was boosted into office by Haidl, who made $1,000 monthly payments in exchange for full access to the resources of the sheriff’s department and a “Get Out Of Jail Free” card. Haidl helped Carona get elected and was appointed in January 1999 to the position of assistant sheriff as payback, the government alleges. The witness tampering charge alleges that he tried to get Haidl to lie to the federal grand jury. Prosecutors allege Haidl began the financial end of his association with Carona before Carona’s election by making several $1,000 campaign “conduit contributions” that concealed that Haidl was the true source of the funds. Besides the cash, prosecutors allege, gifts included a Lake Tahoe vacation, a boat and boat trailer and use of Haidl’s private plane and yacht. Deborah Carona was given a $15,000 Cartier watch, prosecutors allege. Haidl gave Hoffman and George Jaramillo, an assistant sheriff until Carona fired him in March 2004, a $110,000 loan to revive their law firm, the indictment alleges. Hoffman is accused of bankruptcy fraud for allegedly failing to disclose various economic interests, including the loan and payments from Haidl. The conspiracy charge alleges in part that the three covered up and concealed the cash payments, loans, gifts and other benefits by failing to declare them on their Statements of Economic Interest and other public documents. If convicted, Carona and Hoffman face maximum of sentences of nearly 100 years in prison and fines up to $2 million. Carona’s wife faces up to five years and a $250,000 fine. Carona has denied all of the allegations included in the 10-count federal complaint. Haidl and Jaramillo were charged separately, according to Assistant U.S. Attorney Brett Sagel. Both men pleaded guilty last March to federal charges and face sentencing on June 23. Jaramillo, who is serving a one-year sentence in a separate state case for lying to a grand jury and misusing a county helicopter, pleaded guilty to federal charges of depriving the public of his honest services, mail fraud and tax fraud, while Haidl admitted a tax offense. Carona, in a recorded conversation last Aug. 13, encouraged Haidl to withhold evidence in order to make false statements to the grand jury, the court papers allege. ——————————————- For the latest news and observations on crime in Los Angeles and the San Fernando Valley, check out the Daily News’ crime blog by clicking here.160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!