-As Senate Wants Amb. Patten Back Fo Confirmation Hearing
By: Jackson C. Clay, Jr.
In the wake of claims and counter-claims that shook the floor of the Senate concerning the error made in the saga of Liberia’s Ambassador to the United States who although was not confirmed by the Senate but quietly commissioned by the President; with a portion of the senate sanctioning the recall of the politically-troubled ambassador or another batch requesting that the word “recall” be replaced with “invite”, most political observers have termed the error on the part of the Executive as ‘diplomatic miscarriage’.
Notwithstanding, the plenary of the Liberian Senate has instructed its Secretary to write President George Manneh Weah to recall home Ambassador George Patten, Liberia’s Ambassador to the United States of America for confirmation hearing proceedings.
Ambassador Patten is Liberia’s Ambassador to the United States of America who was appointed (instead of nominated) by President Weah sometimes last year in December while the Legislature was on its recess.
The plenary which is the highest decision making body of the Liberian Senate took the decision Thursday, January 31, 2019, during its regular session on Capitol Hill.
The Senate reached the decision following the reading of its joint- committees which include the committee on Foreign Relations and Judiciary, Claims and Petition report in open plenary.
According to the committees’ report, the Liberian leader acted within the senate own standing rule, which among other things gives the President the right to appoint while the Senate is on recess, thus it fulfilled rule 55 section 6 of the Senate’s standing rules and as such the Senate should act accordingly.
Rule 55 section 6 of the Senate’s own rules states that “Appointments made by the President of Liberia in the Executive and Judicial Branches of Government during the recess of the Senate or the Legislature, which are by the Constitution of Liberia, tradition, statute and other laws subject to Senate confirmation, shall be communicated to the Senate at the end of the recess or adjournment.”
Upon the reading of the report, the plenary of the Liberian Senate burst into total disarray with some Senators in complete disagreement with the report while others did agree with the report.
Following the reading of the committees’ report, Maryland County Senator Gbleh-Bo Brown filed a motion that Ambassador Patten be recalled and be subjected to confirmation hearing and after wards sent back to the United States of America.
“I moved that this report be received and these Senate acts appropriately by advising the executive to immediately recall the Ambassador designate from the United States of America and that he should be made to appear before this body through the formal confirmation until he can be reassigned,” Senator Brown said.
But it seems that the Maryland County Senator’s choice of word of ‘recall’ did not go down well with Senator Varney Sherman and other Senators, adding this word would render the appointment invalid which Senator Sherman and others believe it is not.
However, upon heated arguments among the senators in plenary which lasted for almost 30minutes over the choice of word, ‘Recall,’that saw some senators including Senate Pro-Tempore Albert Chie begging Senator Brown to change the word from recall to invite, of which Maryland County Senator reluctantly agreed.
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 commission of Ambassador to the USA without the confirmation by the Liberian Senate in keeping with the Constitution of Liberia. 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). TNR