19 February 2014

Liberia: Mills Jones Only Hope

The hope of any Executive Governor of the Central Bank of Liberia to contest any elected post may soon come to end, if President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf signs the amended version of the March 18, 1999 Act creating Central Bank of Liberia into law. At the moment, the fate of current CBL Executive Governor Joseph Mills Jones lies in the hands of President Sirleaf.

Amid public outcry against the passage of the amended CBL Act by the Liberian Senate, Members of the House of Representatives, on Tuesday in their chamber, argued and concurred with the Senate to stop the CBL Governor from contesting any elected post, while still serving as head of the nation's treasury.

To participate in any electoral process as a candidate, a sitting Executive Governor of the Bank must resign three years earlier.

According to a motion made by Grand Gedeh County Representative Alex Grant, the bill was not targeting any Liberian in particular, but intended to protect politicians from tempering with the country's financial resources in name of political campaign and helping the masses ahead of elections.

Though Lofa, Maryland and Grand Bassa County Representatives Eugene Fallah Kparkar, Bhofal Chambers and Gabriel Buchanan Smith attempted to resist the concurrence on the basis of the lawmakers not sufficiently reading the document, their argument had no ground as many of their colleagues already had their minds made up even before the bill could reach them.

Many political followers believed that the amendment was actually directed at the current CBL Executive Governor, Dr. Joseph Mills Jones, who many may think, was progressing towards contesting the 2017 presidential election. Though Dr. Jones has not openly thrown in his presidential bid, his recent activities clearly speak to that ambition.

The amended Part IV, Section 13, Sub Section 3 (a-e), Part II Sub Section 1, Section 17 and Part V, among others, was taken on Thursday, February 13, 2014 during a regular session at the Chamber of the Senate on Capitol Hill in Monrovia.

According to the new amendment, the Executive Governor of the CBL and Members of the Board of Governors "shall be prohibited to contest political offices, while serving in their respective offices."

The amendment also seeks not to qualify the Executive and Board of Governors of the CBL to contest any electable office within three (3) years "consecutively after the expiration of their tenure" or his/her resignation from the CBL.

The amendment further calls for the Legislature to determine whether or not an "impeachment offense has been committed by the Executive Governor or a Member of the Board of Governors of the CBL."

When such a determination is made, the amendment pointed out, the Legislature shall take the necessary action of "impeachment in keeping with the relevant provisions of the Liberian Constitution."

The amendment calls for a member of the Board of Governors to be removed from office based on a bill of impeachment by the House of Representatives for gross breach of duty, misconduct in office, conviction of a felony, and bankruptcy.

The amendment also seeks to make the CBL to "supply legal tender and banknotes, and coins."

The bill, which calls for the amendment of the CBL Act, was sponsored by Senators Armah Z. Jallah of Gbarpolu County, Sumo Kupee of Lofa County and Peter Coleman of Grand Kru County.

Meanwhile, the bill has been forwarded to the Liberia Chief Executive for signing to finally make the bill a law of the land. Failure of the president to sign, both the House of Representatives and Liberian Senate need separate two/third of membership to override the president's veto power.


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