Freeman, Gongloe, Bikers’ Union Differ on CBL Bill

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In the wake of Capitol Hill’s latest decision to stamp its authority on the powers of the executive governor and other executives of the Central Bank of Liberia, politicians, lawyers and labour organizations have started voicing their opinions on the matter.

The Legislature amended an Act establishing the CBL thereby preventing the CBL governor and executives from participating in future elections.

Said legislative move has received mixed reactions from state-actors including Movement for Progressive Change (MPC) political leader, Mr. Simeon Freeman, constitutional lawyer Tiawon Gongloe and Liberia Motorcycle Transport Union representative Robert M. Sammie.

Freeman expressed support for the proposed legislation in a news conference Thursday, February 20, adding that the Reserve Bank governor had been “in violation of the act creating the CBL for a very long time, and as such, there was a need for legislative intervention in order to right the wrongs along the way.”

Mr. Freeman applauded the efforts of the Legislature in addressing such critical instrument affecting the country, declaring that the proposed legislation "does not contravene the Constitution as being speculated by groups of individuals across the country.”

He pledged his party’s unflinching support for the bill, encouraging President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf to sign the bill in the interest of democracy and political stability.

However, constitutional lawyer Cllr. Tiawon Gongloe, and trade unionist Robert Sammie, frowned on the passage of the bill on Capitol Hill, describing it as, “unconstitutional.”

In separate conversations, Cllr. Gongloe and Sammie said the proposed legislation contravenes several provisions of the 1986 Constitution, and as such, should be considered non-existent.

Appearing live on a local station Thursday in Monrovia, Cllr. Gongloe indicated that the lawmakers’ action is “a clear violation of Article 11 of the 1986.”

Article 11 states: “a) All persons are born equally free and independent and have certain natural, inherent and inalienable rights, among which are the rights to enjoy and defend life and liberty, of pursuing and maintaining the security of the person and of acquiring, possessing and protecting property, subject to such qualifications as provided for in this Constitution.

b) All persons, irrespective of ethnic background, race, sex, creed, place of origin or political opinion, are entitled to the fundamental rights and freedoms of the individual, subject to such qualifications as provided for in this Constitution.

c) All persons are equal before the law and are therefore entitled to the equal protection of the law.”

Based on these constitutional provisions, Cllr. Gongloe advised the Legislature on the violation and further advised the signature power not to sign the bill into law.

For his part, motorcyclists’ secretary general, Sammie, described said action as “a few myopic individuals, including some members of the Legislature, who are acting jittery and paranoid because they feel that the Central Bank Governor, Dr. Mills Jones, harbours presidential political ambition, which is not unconstitutional.

“We are constrained to question the rationale and wisdom of amending the 1999 Act that gives access to Governors of Central Bank of Liberia to extend helping hands to poverty-strickened Liberians looking to be lifted to a level of economic dignity. What is the wisdom in making laws intended to keep your people in perpetual poverty? In simple terms, the Legislature detests the Central Bank Loan Scheme.  This action on the part of the National Legislature can only be described as thoughtless and inconsiderate,” the motorcycle riders' representative said.

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