Liberia: Supreme Court Halts Pres. Weah Executive Order #117


--- Gbeisay's decision to suspend the President's order is pending the Ministry of Justice's response to the writ of prohibition filed by the opposition political party, the Economic Freedom Fighters of Liberia (EFFL).

The Supreme Court of Liberia has temporarily halted President George Weah's executive order #117 which calls for presidential appointees desiring to contest October 10 2023 to resign before April 7.

The decision by the Justice-in-Chambers, Yamie Gbeisaye, was made pending the outcome of a writ of prohibition filed by the opposition political party, the Economic Freedom Fighters of Liberia (EFFL).  The purpose of the Ministry's response is to justify why the opposition party's request should not be approved.

The EFFL had requested the Court to prevent the government from enforcing the President's order, claiming that it violates the 2014 Code of Conduct (CoC) and its amended version in 2022. The writ argued that the presidential decision is against the meaning of the Code of Conduct Act since the law is being implemented only a few months before the October 10 elections instead of the required one-year notice."

The President  Executive Order which was issued on March 14, mandated all government officials desiring to contest the October 10, elections to resign before April 7. According to the Executive Mansion, the President's action was in accordance with Section 5.2 of the amended 2014 Code of Conduct."

However, Weah has faced significant criticism for implementing the law within a significantly short period. Section 5.2 of the amended law reduces the resignation period for officials from a maximum of three years to just one year.

The President however acknowledged the one-year resignation clause but pointed out that with only seven months left until the elections, the amended Act cannot prevent public officials from participating in the October 10 election." Nevertheless, the President has asserted that the executive order was necessary to establish a fair political playing field, citing his compelling interest. Consequently, presidential appointees are now mandated to resign six months before the country's elections."

The EFFL has argued that the President's justification violates the law, as the order should have been issued in 2022 to ensure that the clause's objective, which aims to prevent presidential appointees from using state resources to contest elections, was achieved. 

The party writ, therefore, seeks to have the President's executive order declared void, as it never existed. It argues that the phrase 'who desires to contest for any elected office' is directly contradictory to the executive order.

The writ states, 'We request Your Honor to declare Executive Order 117 illegal and with no force or legal effect. The petitioner contends that laws are not retroactive and therefore not applicable to anyone appointed by the President of Liberia at this point since the publishing date.'"