A civil society organization (CSO) has expressed disappointment over President George Weah’s attempt to annul all tenured positions in the executive branch of government.
Open Liberia, a local pro-democracy organization, on November 6 said in its press statement that failure on the part of civil society organizations and the Legislature to, with immediate effect, condemn President Weah’s attempt to nullify tenured positions would constitute a threat to national democratic governance.
“Despite the sadness of the President’s decision, not one of the persons we have elected as lawmakers has publicly spoken about how the President’s proposal undermines good governance and transparency, particularly so in the absence of an empirical study to prove how ineffective these tenured positions are,” Open Liberia Program Officer, Esther Kellen, said.
According to Ms. Kellen, not countering President Weah’s attempt to cancel tenures for senior positions at the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL), Liberia Maritime Authority (LAM), and the Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA), will eventually lead to an imperial presidency as well as disregard for the Constitution.
“Sometime last week, our nation woke up to the news of a sad decision by the President to alter the autonomy, independence and sanctity of certain positions in our governance system – contrary to international best practices,” she said.
Ms. Kellen added, “The President wants to change the way the LRA, LMA, CBL, and the National Social Security and Welfare Corporation, Liberia Telecommunications Authority, and the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission have been operating to suit his pleasure.”
“Inasmuch as it is true that Weah was elected by the majority to lead the country,” Ms. Kellen said, “his composure in the following months shows that he is headed for a dictatorial type of leadership under whose watch the country may suffer more setbacks than ever before.”
“Mr. Weah may have been elected through a democratic process, but his composure in recent times is a signal that a dictator is in the making; he’s doing so while people think he is not aware of what he is doing. But the President is very much aware of what he is doing – amassing power to a position that is already too powerful,” Ms. Kellen alleged.
She said although individuals in government are not taking keen note of what Weah wants to achieve, “sooner or later, they will get to know that Weah is a celebrated democratic dictator whose primary objective is to rule by perceptions rather than using the law.”
“When we went to the polls in 2005, 2011 and 2017, we did not have in our mind that the reason we’re voting Mr. Weah was for him to tamper with our governance and democracy. The President wants to amass power onto himself and take our governance from being a democracy to an autocracy –this is certainly not what we signed up for,” Ms. Kellen declared.
She said it is sad that Weah has so quickly forgotten that the Governance Decentralization Act was recently signed into law by him.
“How soon has our President forgotten that when he was candidate from 2005 to 2017, his mantra was ‘Power to the People, Yes We can?’ How come it has turned out to be ‘Power to Me, Mr. President?” she asked rhetorically.
She continued, “How can we believe and accept your mantra of power be to the people when, based on the way you have structured our governance, no one can tell the king that he is naked?”
She said her organization is puzzled by its discovery of Weah playing the roles of judge, player and spectator at the same time. Kellen noted that Weah’s decision to terminate these tenured positions has the ability to undermine the functional independence of the institutions in question and challenged them to perform up to the expectations of the people who stood the test of times to vote for change.
“Open Liberia will assume, until proven otherwise, that the decision by the president is only meant to create a temporary distraction from other pressing national issues like the L$16 billion scandal and his mansions under construction as well as the ongoing proven malfeasance at the LPRC so as to buy time to gear up for his tasks, especially the productive ones,” she concluded.