-Vivid Reflection Of Flagrant Violations Of Liberia’s Bleeding Constitution
The numerous violations of the Constitution by many top and senior government officials including the President without any form of open public apology, most political observers have termed such infamous act as politically gang-raped; a culture that must be chided by all patriotic Liberians if the laws of the land are to be respected and honored.
Prevailing developments of late which have brought the respectability of the Constitution under spotlight have also in no way painted a good image for the dispensation of the laws of this country as many people continue to hold government’ s feet too close to the fire for most of the gross violations of the Constitution, the observers intoned.
One of such keen observers who has placed the government in check is former Chairman of Liberia’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), Counselor Jerome J. Verdier, Sr., as evidenced by his open letter addressed to President George M. Weah in which he (Verdier) reminded the Chief Executive of the need for justice and respect for human rights, especially as it relates to the Liberian conflict
According to the renowned Human Rights Lawyer, in 2003, Liberia concluded a prolong civil crisis with the signing of a Peace Accord in Accra, Ghana. That Agreement called for the establishment of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
The former TRC’s chairman added that while officials of the outgoing Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf government and the international community had enthusiastically endorsed and financed the establishment of the TRC, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and some perpetrators of gross human rights violations in her outgoing government became averse to the implementation of the recommendations contained in the report.
Verdier also pointed out that since the publication of the TRC’s Final Report in December 2009, officials of the outgoing government who played key roles–-financially and militarily– in financing the war continue to argue against the implementation of the recommendations, particularly those related to accountability.
The letter further continues that “You are the first democratically elected indigenous President of this nation, breaking the stronghold of the minority on the political life of the nation, perhaps dethroning the hegemony forever”!
He explains that Weah’s election has brought to light the vision of the venerable D Tweh and the struggles of many others in Liberia for “rice and rights” and the abiding aspirations of the many he (Weah) represents for younger, dynamic leadership in ‘our beloved Country – Generational Change’!
Verdier in clear term to Weah that “Sir, your momentous victory also imposes serious responsibilities on your leadership to empower your people, seek economic and social equality for them, and the protection and defense of their human and social economic rights”.
According to him, “With this responsibility, Your Excellency, also is imposed the obligation to redress issues of justice and accountability in addition to the Reports of The Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) and curbing corruption in the public sector as reflected in the Reports of the General Auditing Commission (GAC), its public interest objectives and goals, thus repairing Liberia’s damaged credibility at home and abroad regarding corruption”.
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 on 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 the 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.
Moreover, political analysts and historical observers are beginning to paint a picture of what they sensed and are alleging as an emerging ‘ruthless dictatorship’ in the country with emphasis on ‘cutting corner politically’ as in the case of the roaring issue simmering over the questionable mode and fashion in which the current appointed and subsequent commissioned embattled Liberian Ambassador to the USA; wherein the Senate’s constitutional role of confirmation was by-passed or purged and shelved; an obvious indication of abuse even to the doctrine of separation of power as enshrined in the constitution to be mutually respected by the three branches of government in Liberia.
It can be recalled that President George M. Weah commissioned Ambassador George S.W. Patten, Sr, Liberian Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary designate to the United States of America. Ambassador George S.W. Patten Sr. replaces Cllr. Lois Brutus.
According to a Foreign Ministry release, the commissioning ceremony took place on Saturday, December 29, 2018.
President Weah encouraged Ambassador-designate Patten to represent Liberia’s best interest at his new assignment. President Weah also advised Ambassador Patten to be mindful of the special relationship subsisting between Liberia and the United States of America.
Also, Liberia’s Ambassador-designate to the United States, Ambassador Patten promised to promote and push Liberia’s Foreign Policy to the highest level while performing his duties and responsibilities to the best of his ability. Ambassador Patten thanked President Weah for the opportunity and the confidence reposed in his ability to serve Liberia at that ambassadorial level.
Amb. George S.W. Patten previously served as Liberia’s Ambassador to Ethiopia, and Chargé d’Affaires a.i., at Liberia’s Permanent Mission to the UN