11 August 2017

Liberia: Ellen Wants Impeachment Stopped

President Ellen Johnson -Sirleaf has asked lawmakers here to abandon an impeachment proceeding being initiated against three justices of the Supreme Court Bench on grounds that the action tends to undermine the peace, threaten the elections process currently underway, and create confusion and chaos in Liberia's fledgling democracy.

"The Executive Branch of Government is not prepared and will not support any unconstitutional maneuverings from any of the institutions of Government," Mrs. Sirleaf says in a special statement issued in Monrovia Thursday evening, 10 August.

She further emphasized that the Executive Branch of Government will not support any action, which tends to undermine the Constitution and reverse the gains this country has made.

Associate Justices Kabineh M. Ja'neh, Phillip A.Z. Banks, III, and Jamesetta Howard - Wolokollie are being pursued by some lawmakers with an impeachment proceeding that is being worked out at the House of Representatives following the Supreme Court's decision in July on the controversial Code of Conduct.

"This move is clearly in violation of Article 73 of the Constitution of Liberia," Mrs. Sirleaf cautions, and admonishes that at this time, all branches of government should be working coordinately to ensure the peaceful elections and the smooth transfer of power.

Though not a candidate in the October presidential and representatives' elections, Mrs. Sirleaf's vice president, Joseph Nyumah Boakai is seeking to secure his party third term against some 20 contenders as Mrs. Sirleaf concludes her second and final six years in January 2018.

Ahead of Mrs. Sirleaf's call on Thursday for the legislators at the House of Representatives to abandon this course of action, the nation's highest court had on Wednesday issued a stay order against the ongoing impeachment arrangements, though some lawmakers are suggesting that they won't honor the Court's stay order.

Impeachment proceedings are being worked out following protests by Sen. Dan Marais, Sen. Dr. Peter Coleman, Sen. James Tornola, Sen. Numene Bartekwa and Rep. George Mulbah against the Supreme Court decision last month that received mix public reaction.

After ruling in March this year that the Code of Conduct is legal and binding for all its intent and purpose, the Supreme Court, ruled in July and overturned the National Elections Commission (NEC's) disbarment of opposition Liberty Party's vice presidential candidate Harrison Karnwea from the October elections.

The NEC disbarred Mr. Karnwea on grounds that he violated the Code of Conduct due to his failure to have resigned as Forestry Development Authority Managing Director two years ahead of conducting the October elections.

But while the Supreme Court agrees that Mr. Karnwea did violate the Code, it however, finds that his violation was not egregious to warrant his disbarment by the Commission.

In the wake of the glaring constitutional crisis that is developing here during these critical electoral periods, Mrs. Sirleaf expresses concern over some lawmakers' attempts to initiate impeachment proceedings against majority members of the Supreme Court because of judicial decisions made by the Supreme Court.

The incumbent reminds lawmakers here that in Liberia's system of government, the Legislature is empowered to enact laws and the Supreme Court is mandated and authorized to interpret the laws.

While urging legislators to abandon the impeachment process against the justices, Mrs. Sirleaf is emphatically clear that the Executive Branch of Government will not support any action, which tends to undermine the Constitution and reverse the gains this country has made. In conclusion, she wishes God's blessing upon the works "of our hands and save the Republic." By Winston W. Parley and editing by Othello B. Garblah

Liberia

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