-While Amb Patten Says “Who Am I To Say No”; Agrees Weah Made Errors; Now Faces Real Senate’s Confirmation Hearing
In consonance with Article 54 of the 1986 Constitution of Liberia, the Senate has undone a controversial action taken by President George M. Weah to commission Liberia’s Ambassador to the United States of America without Senate confirmation.
Article 54 states: “The President shall nominate and, with the consent of the Senate, appoint and commission
Cabinet Ministers, deputy and assistant cabinet ministers; Ambassadors, minister, consuls; and The Chief Justice and Associate Justices of the Supreme Court and judges of subordinate courts Superintendents, other county officials and officials of other political sub divisions; Members of the military from the rank of lieutenant or its equivalent and above; and Marshals, deputy marshals and sheriffs.”
Ambassador George Patten who has already presented his letter of credence to US President Donald Trump, was forced by the Plenary of the Liberian Senate to come back in obedience to the Constitution of Liberia.
The Liberian Senate Thursday, January 31, voted in favor of a motion to invite Liberia’s Ambassador to the United States of America.
The Senate’s plenary took the decision in contention that the Ambassador’s appointment and commissioning were done by the Executive without confirmation by the Senate.
President George Weah in December of 2018 nominated and without the Senate’s confirmation, appointed and commissioned Ambassador Patten as Liberia’s Ambassador to the United States of America.
The President’s decision was based on Rule 55 of the Liberian Senate that gives the President the authority to nominate officials of the Executive during their recess, which should last for three months beginning in September to December.
But Rule 55 further calls on the President to refer said appointment(s) to the Senate after their break for confirmation and appointment where necessary.
Appearing before the Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs, headed by Maryland County Senator H. Dan Morias, Ambassador Patten told members of the Committee that his decision to take out assignment was squarely based on a mandate of the appointing authority.
“Senators, I am aware of the law, but I am an agent of the President, so who am I to say no to the call of the President,” he said.
He indicated that he will submit to the decision of the Liberian Senate, and the Constitution at large, adding “I am here because of your mandate for me to come.”
The Liberia-US Ambassador in admitting to the violation of the law, openly apologized to the Senate, and promised to reduce it in to writing.
With respect to credential, Ambassador Patten noted that he has a wealth of over 30 years’ experience as a diplomat, with credentials in diplomacy, conflict resolution and International Law, and previously representing the country in United Nations, the US, Kenya among others.
With these experiences, he added that he is best suited to adequately represent Liberia at any International level.
Following the cross-examination, Committee Chairman, Dan Morias indicated that the committee will report its findings to the Plenary of the Liberian Senate for subsequent action.
It can be recalled that Bomi County’s Senator Sando D. Johnson told a local radio station in a phone-in-talk show in Monrovia recently (Friday, January 4, 2019) that the Foreign Ministry’s authority admitted that the commissioned Liberia’s Ambassador to the United States of America by President, Dr. George M. Weah without Senate’s confirmation was a mistake, many pundits grimly questioned the excuse and pointed out that such cover-up is unacceptable because the Chief Executive is on record for breaching the constitution he has vowed to protect, uphold, respect and defend numerous occasions.
The pundits strongly expressed that it is indeed laughable, the excuse from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs that it was a mistake when in fact the current Minster of Foreign Affairs, Mr. G. Milton Findley and President Weah have both served as Senators in the very Legislature and are very much cognizant of the constitutional responsibility of the Senate to firstly confirm before any form of commissioning exercise can be conducted by the President.
Senator Johnson further explained that while it is true that Article 54 of the Constitution gives the President the right or authority to appoint (nominate) and even if the senate is on recess; the President still has what he (Sen. Johnson) says the right to make his recess appointment until the senate returns from recess to perform the confirmation ceremony which is the procedure as enshrined in the Constitution, it cannot be done in the reverse nor in the manner and form it was carried out in the case of the commissioning activity performed by President Weah without Senate’s confirmation of Liberia’s Ambassador to the United States (USA).
According to him upon the return of the Senate from recess, an urgent meeting to ratify the appointment and subsequent commissioned Ambassador to the USA without the confirmation by the Senate in keeping with the constitution. The constitution states that the Chief Executive has the power to appoint; the senate has the exclusive power to confirm or reject while the President with authority vested in him commissions his confirmed appointee(s).
However, pundits who maintained that since the inception of the Dr. Weah at the helm of state power close to a year, it has been observed that some provisions of the constitution specifically appointments made by him leader has grossly violated the organic law he vowed to respect, uphold and defend; and challenged his officials to fully subscribe to the latter.
They also wondered if the action of the President in his appointments’ drive of which some are in violation of the constitution are done with disregard of the law or the reflection of a callous dictator, which they view as troubling and must be told to the President.
They at the same time noted that it is questionable and hugely chided appointments made by Dr. Weah including Liberia’s Permanent Maritime Representative (IMO), London, United Kingdom; LEITI, Lottery; first quizzical Liberia’s appointed Ambassador, Ms. Gibson to the United Stated, now re-appointed, confirmed and commissioned to the Court of St. James and the saddled assets declaration just to highlight a few; which have all sadly backfired, are still vividly glaring on the “memory-wall” of gross disregard and disrespect for the constitution is also worrisome. TNR