26 November 2012

Liberia: Ellen Must Resign or Be Impeached

Former Labor Minister and human rights lawyer has issued a strongly worded statement in which he calls on President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf to honorably resign and allow Vice President Joseph Boakai runs the affairs of the state until elections in 2017.

Cllr. Taiwon Gongloe said if President Sirleaf does not do so, then the House of Representatives, in the supreme interest of the people should impeach her.

However, the Liberian government has rejected the lawyer's call and said if he believes that the President has violated the constitution he should take recourse to the constitutional court.

Deputy Minister for Public Affairs at the Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism (MICAT) Isaac Jackson said Cllr. Gongloe's argument about nepotism is redundant and political and is not supported by law; therefore, nobody should give his argument credence.

He said Cllr. Gongloe's argument against nepotism justifies similar argument by some Liberians when they are in government, there's no nepotism; but when they leave government they begin to argue about nepotism baselessly.

"When did Cllr. Gongloe know that there was nepotism in this government? He was Minister when the President's sons were in government...his argument is based on flimsy political argument and has no evidence in law," Minister Jackson asserted.

Citing Article 18 of the Liberian constitution and the United States Foreign Affairs Manuel Volume 3, the Deputy Minister argued that there's absolute no nepotism when merit is the yard stick to bring people to government.

Minister Jackson said while government respects Cllr. Gongloe as an esteemed lawyer, however, he believes that the lawyer should take flight to the Supreme Court.

Last week, Gongloe said the President violated Article 5 (C) of the 1986 and the oath of office by appointing her sons and other family members in government.

"President Sirleaf cannot place herself above the Constitution of Liberia. She is not at liberty to place her family interest above the interest of Liberia," Gongloe, a long time political activist and constitutional lawyer emphasized in a speech he delivered at the 42nd anniversary of the Vanguard Student Unification Party (SUP) on the main campus of the University of Liberia.

In a clinical presentation, supported by historical facts and law issues, Gongloe said President Johnson-Sirleaf violated the Constitution of Liberia by appointing her sons to positions in government which is in clear violation of the law.

"President Sirleaf's appointment of her sons to positions in government is in clear violation of the Constitution of Liberia. It is therefore, a violation of her oath of office as President of Liberia. She does not have the right to violate the Constitution of Liberia. In this regard, her recent statement, "I will not fire my sons" as reported in the New Democrat Newspaper and other papers is unconstitutional," the lawyer maintained.

Gongloe, a former Solicitor General of Liberia said President Sirleaf's action suggests that she would not respect Article 5 (c) of the Constitution of Liberia.

"A violation of the Constitution of Liberia by a President is an impeachable offense. No president has the right to choose not to respect the Constitution of Liberia, the people's own law. No President of Liberia has the right to break the law and still expect to enjoy the respect and trust of the people under the authority of the same constitution. Our country is a democracy where governance is by the people, of the people and for the people based upon the rule of law. It is not a monarchy where the king or emperor's will prevails. Never again in Liberia should we allow any President of Liberia to govern Liberia like monarch. A president who governs a democratic country like a monarch is an imperial president," Cllr. Gongloe stressed as he was applauded by supporters of the Vanguard Student Unification Party.

Gongloe, a long time ally of Madam Sirleaf and co-progressive in the struggle for social change, said Madam Sirleaf has become an imperial president by her flagrant violation of the Constitution.

"Also, by saying that she will not dismiss her sons, even though their appointments violate article 5(c) of the Constitution of Liberia, President Sirleaf has made a clear choice between her sons and Liberia. She has by her defiant statement subordinated the interest of the people of Liberia to the interest of her children. Our President has made a clear choice in favor of her family over her country. Therefore, I call upon President Sirleaf to do the only honorable and logical thing left for her to do under the circumstances and that is to resign as president and let Vice President Joseph Boakai carry on until the next election. If she does not do so, then the House of Representatives, in the supreme interest of the people should impeach her. President Sirleaf cannot place herself above the Constitution of Liberia. She is not at liberty to place her family interest above the interest of Liberia," Gongloe asserted as the audience was stunned by his unremorseful statement.

Gongloe said he sees the president's resignation as the only way to keep Liberia peaceful until the next general and presidential elections.

According to him, Liberians are becoming increasingly unhappy about the President's blatant disregard for the constitution and the longer she stays in power the more angry people will become; this could lead to a reversal of peace and progress in Liberia.

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