Uphold The Sanctity And Supremacy Of The Liberian Constitution
NDC Press Release Calling For The Resignation Or Impeachment of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf
Ellen Johnson Sirleaf
The National Democratic Coalition (NDC) of the Republic of Liberia has further stressed the need to preserve and uphold the sanctity and supremacy of the constitution of Liberia. In separate radio talk shows and public appearances during the week that set hearts ablaze in Liberia, the National Chairman of the NDC, Alaric Tokpa clarified the nature, mandate and roadmap for the post Ellen Sirleaf administration envisaged.
He described the Ellen Johnson administration as incompetent, inefficient and a complete failure and disappointment. “This is a government whose domestic policy is based on stealing while its foreign policy is based on begging,” said Mr. Tokpa. “If there are other Liberians who want to live under this government, the choice is theirs; but I wouldn’t want to live under a government that forces pregnant women to deliver in the streets due to lack of health services, poor policy pronouncements and institutional frameworks. The curfew is not necessary; nor is the so-called state of emergency necessary.”
“It is in the interest of Liberia for Ellen to step down anyway. So the time has come!: Ellen must step down now, anyhow. With citizen action waiting in the background, Ellen Sirleaf will be well advice to resign. However, she can also be impeached or wait to eventually faced citizen action,” said Mr. Tokpa.
Thus, the below statement, issued by authority of the Executive Committee of the NDC 1) clearly establishes why there is a constitutional governance crisis; 2) explains the constitutional reasons why Ellen must come down because of the constitutional governance crisis; 3) clarifies the nature, mandate and way forward for a post Ellen administration in addressing the constitutional governance crisis; 4) stresses the need to allow for ascendency to the presidency based on the constitution of Liberia as well as the need for the Unity Party to complete its term of office without Ellen Sirleaf; 5) calls for Ellen Sirleaf and some of her children and cronies to face a war crimes and/or economic crimes tribunal where applicable and 6) supplies clear constitutional reasons why Liberians should embark on constitutional proceedings to bring down Ellen Johnson Sirleaf from the presidency of the country.
“This Constitution is the supreme and fundamental law of Liberia and its provisions shall have binding force and effect on all authorities and persons throughout the Republic.
Any laws, treaties, statutes, decrees, customs and regulations found to be inconsistent with it shall, to the extent of the inconsistency, be void and of no legal effect. The Supreme Court, pursuant to its power of judicial review, is empowered to declare any inconsistent laws unconstitutional.” Chapter 1, Article 2, Constitution of the Republic of Liberia
The Ebola Pandemic and the Constitutional Governance Crisis: The failure of the Government of Liberia to have conducted the constitutionally scheduled Mid Term Senatorial Elections on October 14, 2014 (that is, the second Tuesday of October in the current year) as provided for by Article 83 (a) of the 1986 Constitution renders any new date for the holding of said Mid-Term Senatorial Election unconstitutional, except through amendment of the Liberian Constitution absolutely requiring a referendum by the sovereign people of the Republic as determined by Articles 91 & 92 of the organic law of the Republic. Failure to do this by the second working Monday of January 2015 means that the constitutional basis of the existence of the government will have been eroded. Consequently, the Government would be incomplete and the doctrine of three separate, independent but coordinate branches of the Presidential system of Government as practiced constitutionally in Liberia would have been undermined to the core.
Herein lies the seriousness of the constitutional governance crisis that has been engendered by the inability of the grossly incompetent, inefficient and corrupt Ellen Sirleaf Administration to have appropriately addressed the Ebola pandemic, the consequence of which has brought Liberia to the point of breakdown. This crisis has introduced a new imperative within the body politics of Liberia, which amounts to an exigency that demands the alteration of the Ellen Johnson Administration, preferably by a new constitutional leadership on the basis of the ascendancy doctrine as determined by Article 63 (b) of the Liberian Constitution.
In the face of the constitutional challenges and in a desperate attempts to salvage the on-going crisis, the sanctity and supremacy of the Liberian Constitution is being contravened, while at the same time the respect for and the upholding of the rule of law are being flagrantly violated at the highest echelons of law making within the Government of Liberia (the National Legislature and the Presidency). The actions of both the Legislature and the Presidency are not only constitutionally contemptuous but also impeachable as well.
Accordingly, the Joint Resolution #002/2014 adopted by the two Houses of the 53rd Legislature on October 10, 2014 and subsequently signed into law by the President is grossly unconstitutional. Resolution 002/2014 specifically mandates the National Elections Commission to commence consultations and discussions “with all recognized political parties, independent candidates, civil society organizations and other stakeholders….on a new date for the holding of the Senatorial Election for 2014; not later than December 20, 2014, pending the approval of the Legislature.”
The NDC wishes to establish that the said Joint Resolution in question is spurious and grossly unconstitutional. By such an unconstitutional Resolution, both the National Legislature and the President of Liberia have arrogated unto themselves powers to shamelessly and fraudulently amend the Liberian Constitution outside the constitutionally established parameters within which the Constitution can be amended as provided for by Articles 91 and 92 of the Constitution. By this Resolution, both the National Legislature and the President have grossly overstepped their constitutional bounds, acted ultra vires, and have grossly failed to uphold the rule of law at the highest level of Government.
Essentially, the following legal grounds to wit constitute the unconstitutionality of Joint Resolution #002/2014:
Article 91 provides as follows: “This Constitution may be amended whenever a proposal by either (1) two-thirds of the memberships of both Houses of the legislature or (2) a petition submitted to the legislature by not fewer than 10,000 citizens which receive concurrence of two-thirds of the membership of both Houses of the Legislature is rectified by two-thirds of the registered voters, voting in a referendum conducted by the Elections Commission not sooner than one year after the action of the Legislature.”
The fundamental issue here is the desperate attempt by the Government to hold election, when the environment for the conduct of free, fair, credible and transparent elections do not exist throughout a country in which our people are dying in their scores on a daily basis as a result of the Ebola crisis. The Administration of Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, so weak, corrupt, incompetent and lacking in any vision for which it has been incapable to effectively address the Ebola crisis, is scared that the constitutional crisis engendered by the Ebola pandemic now threatens her power base, for which elections must be held at any and all costs, including thwarting the Constitution and holding elections on the corpses of fellow Liberians.
As a matter of desperation, the Elections Commission and the Government of Liberia are poised to conduct partial elections based on problematic and unconstitutional arrangements in which election would be held at different intervals in selected counties that may seem relatively stable (as compared to others), all because of their determination to conform to the constitutionally firm January 2015 requirement for the sitting of the senate. In other words, the Election Commission and the Ellen Sirleaf administration are doing everything to possibly abort the constitutional crisis (which, ironically, already exists) by ensuring that the time set constitutionally for the inauguration of a newly elected set of fifteen (15) senators will not elapse. To all intents and purposes, this further punctuates the constitutional governance crisis.
Again, this formula (partially voting at separate times, on separate dates, in some counties but not others in the same senatorial elections) also violates the Liberian Constitution. According to Article 83 of the Constitution, “Voting for the President, Vice President, members of the Senate and members of the House of Representatives shall be conducted throughout the Republic on the Second Tuesday in October of each year”; not on separate dates or at different intervals or in different counties, while leaving the other counties considered to be unsafe for other dates.
Constitutional governance crisis and the way forward: The constitutional governance crisis that has been engendered by the Ebola pandemic is a direct consequence of the inefficiency, incompetence, and unprofessionalism of the Ellen Sirleaf administration that is paraded by a bunch of unserious cronies, based on patronage and corruption.
No government in the entire history of Liberia has so much enjoyed the unprecedented generosity and unanimity of support from the international community to build the peace and reconstruct Liberia as the Ellen Sirleaf administration has. As can be seen, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has squandered and abused all the opportunities and good will provided to her by the Liberian people and the international community in these critical post-conflict times. She lacks vision and has had no agenda for the country. Pretending to be capable, she is essentially very incompetent, very corrupt, [and] very disrespectful of the Liberian people in her gross display of arrogance as a character. She places the interest of her children, family people and friends over the vital interest of our people and country. Incidentally, she invited the Ebola as another money making enterprise; but little did she know that the enterprise is over as there are unpredictable consequences for prolonging Ebola crisis and eating Ebola money.
All strategic financial, security, and natural resource (including our oil) and management apparatuses of the country have been placed in the hands of the children of Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf and friends of her children. The woman has so ignominiously and arrogantly personalized the entire affairs of Government even to the exclusion of the very party that brought her to power – the Unity Party. Unlike Samuel Doe and Charles Taylor, who respected their respective parties, after her second and final term election, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf has marginalized the Unity Party, and is running a Government of family affairs. Enough is enough; Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf has become a luxury unaffordable for Liberia, and she must go as a result of a crisis invited by herself on herself.
Road Map for a post EllenJohnson-Sirleaf government: The NDC proposes a sovereign national conference of the sovereign people of Liberia, in accordance with Article 1 of the Liberian Constitution, to discuss the constitutional governance crisis; for only the sovereign people of Liberia can ratify and amend the Liberian Constitution as illustrated supra, particularly within the context of the current political situation faced by the country.
Against this backdrop, the NDC proposes the following roadmap for the establishment of a post Ellen Sirleaf governance architecture. However, fundamentally differently from the warring faction types of transitional arrangements (such as IGNU, LNTG and the NTGL) adopted during the Liberian civil conflict that led to power sharing by various contenders, the NDC rather proposes a constitutionally determined arrangement in which the Unity Party would be allowed to complete its constitutional mandate up to 2017, to take Liberia out of the crisis, but without Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf as president. Thus, we propose the following:
a) Put in place mechanisms for the conduct of a sovereign national conference to re-enforce the Unity Party-led Administration new Chief Executive with additional mandates, including adoption of a robust strategy to completely destroy Ebola in Liberia and put in place the relevant health programs that will ensure that Ebola and other pandemics will never again bring the nation to its knees; it also includes putting in place mechanisms to hold the postponed Mid-Term Senatorial Elections for the purpose of the completion of the Government.
Republic of Liberia, Plaintiff Vs. Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, Defendant
The following principles of law violated, and crimes committed, by the sitting President adversely contributing to bad and weak governance serving as precipitants for deep-rooted deplorable socio-economic conditions of the people of Liberia, including, as well as causing deaths and massive destruction, inter alia, a weak health sector that has exacerbated the Ebola pandemic whose consequences have killed more than 2000 fellow Liberians in less than two months in the country. Some of the crimes committed prior to becoming president, have no statute of limitation.
5. In general, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf has, among others, violated the following provisions of the Constitution of Liberia: Articles 6, 7, 8, 15, 18, 18e, 51b, 63b, 87, 88 and therefore, 53, in accordance with which Ellen Sirleaf as president elect toke a solemn oath or affirmation to preserve, protect and defend the constitution and laws of the Republic and faithfully execute the duties of the office” of president; and should hence, leave office or be removed from office in accordance with Articles 1, 43, and/or 62.
Role of the Constitutional Court in the constitutional governance crisis: The Supreme Court is the highest appellate court constitutionally established to adjudicate constitutional matters. The law requires that the Court is independent, transparent and operates with integrity. The single largest challenge faced by our judicial system, however, is not the lack of competent and knowledgeable judicial officers or legal practitioners, but the political culture of blatant and undue presidential interference in the running of the judiciary.
In 2011, shortly before the General and Presidential, the president and the ruling party were very interested in the amendment of Article 83 (b) Absolute majority to be replaced by simple majority. This portion of the Constitution along with three others was placed on the ballot for a sovereign decision by the Liberian people. Interestingly, the Johnny Lewis Bench overturned the outcomes of the referendum rejecting replacement of the absolute majority by a simple majority.
Similarly, when the Presidency was interested in the power to appoint mayors rather than have them elected, the Lewis Bench interpreted the law in the interest of the Presidency.
In these debates on the constitutional governance crisis, supporters of the President have arrogantly rebuked the NDC that if we do not like what is obtaining, we should take the matter to court, boasting by saying: “We will see whose head would be left in the cold”. In view of the foregoing, we like to put the Constitutional Court on its guard.
Conclusion: Given the current state of affairs that is obtaining in our dear Liberia, we of the NDC think that if implemented, the above recommendations will go a long way in ensuring that we are freed from the shackles of Ellenism: personalized rule, neo-patrimonialism, cronyism, corruption, vengeance, nepotism and other cankers that continue to eat at the heart of this administration. After long years of poor governance, authoritarian rule, corruption and vices, Liberia cannot afford to be caught in another political barbed-wire that will drag us backwards.
During this crisis, we have seen how this administration has illustrated its inability to provide effective leadership and order in Liberia. Indeed, the administration is synonymous with disorder as manifested by the fact that almost every key member of the cabinet and other positions have become law unto themselves. Having declared a state of emergency in flagrant violation of the constitution, the administration is now seeking extra powers. Liberians need to remain vigilant so that the current Ebola crisis is not used as a pretext for this administration to abrogate unto itself any extra powers. We have agonized enough under this administration; it is about time that we make sure that no extra powers are granted.
Finally, Madam Sirleaf should do the honorable thing to resign so that Liberia is spared of further hardships and disorder.
Ciapha Saah Gbollie, Jr.
Vice National Chairman for Administration/NDC
By the authority of the National Executive Committee
National Democratic Coalition (NDC)