-Over Nomination & Commission of Amb. Patten, Vows To checkmate Gov’t
By R. Joyclyn Wea
The newly inducted President of the Liberian National Bar Association (LNBA) has chided President George Weah’s recent appointment of George Patten.
Cllr. Tiawan Gongloe said the President erred and that such action is in violation of the Liberian Constitution.
It can be recalled President Weah recently appointed George Patten as Liberia Ambassador to the United States of America while the Senate was on recess.
According to Cllr. Gongloe, there is no provision under the constitution for the appointment of an ambassador without the advice and consent of the Liberian Senate under any circumstance.
“There is a current debate on whether the president can appoint an Ambassador while the senate is on recess. The clear legal answer to this simple legal question is no,” he said.
Cllr. Gongloe spoke over the weekend at the Paynesville City hall where he and other newly elected officials of the Bar were inducted into office.
Article 54 of the Liberian Constitution provides that for the appointment of public officials by the President, “The President shall nominate and, with the consent of the Senate, appoint and commission Cabinet Ministers, Deputy and Assistant Cabinet Ministers, Ambassadors, Ministers, Consuls” amongst other officials of government.
He further emphasized that there is no exception to this mandatory constitutional procedure as mentioned in Article 54 for the appointment of public officials by the President, even during a state of emergency.
“The Constitution of other countries may have provisions for the appointment of an ambassador while the senate is on recess, but such constitution cannot form the basis of any appointment of a public official in Liberia saying “The constitution of Liberia controls how Liberia should be governed.”
He vowed that under his leadership as president of the LNBA, the voice of the bar will be heard loudly on all contentious legal issues. We owe a collective duty to our country as lawyers to provide clarifications on legal issues, as a way of sustaining the peace and preventing conflict.
He indicated that their recent experience shows that it is impossible for lawyers to perform their profession when the country descends into conflict that’s why it is not in their professional interest as lawyers to remain silent when decisions and actions are taken by public officeholders in the three branches of government that they know to be in clear violation of the constitution, statutes, laws, and international treaties to which the country is a party.
Cllr. Gongloe bewailed “When we fail to take a professional position on illegal decisions and actions of public officials that have the potential of undermining the rule of law and respect for fundamental human rights, we must take the blame for any conflict that results from our silence.”
The Human Rights Lawyer noted that most times public officials sincerely believe that their decisions and actions are supported by law, when in fact, those actions are illegal.
“In a highly illiterate society like ours, the educated segment of our population has the moral responsibility to guide against actions of the government and its functionaries that are illegal and lawyers must take the lead in the performance of such patriotic duty.”
Accordingly, Gongloe recounted that the Liberian conflict was the consequence of perennial bad governance by successive governments of Liberia based on corruption and wanton disregard for the Constitution and statutory laws of Liberia even though they themselves were lawyers
Article 15c of the Liberian Constitution provides that the people have the right to know about their government and its functionaries, this Cllr. Gongloe indicated, politicians only know the importance of this constitutional provision when they are not in power; when they are in power, and other Liberians begin to speak about their actions, then they change their emphasis from Article 15(c) to Article 15(a) of the Constitution which says “every person shall have the right to freedom of expression, being fully responsible for the abuse thereof.”
Additionally, Gongloe vowed that the Bar under his leadership will checkmate missteps of public officials and the Government of Liberia. TNR