Several lawmakers over the weekend rejected and condemned Executive Order No. 65 as issued by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, describing it as a “return to junta rule in Liberia.”
On December 4, 2014 President Sirleaf issued an Executive Order placing a ban on political rallies, parades, and demonstrations in Monrovia for about 42 days.
The President’s temporary legislation undermines existing legislation requiring that persons desiring to march or demonstrate be made to obtain prior permits from the Ministry of Justice. Madam Sirleaf further noted that said legal framework has “proven ineffective to address rallies, parades and concerted mass movements on the streets of Monrovia and its environs.”
Addressing a news conference at the Capitol Building in Monrovia, 14 of Montserrado County’s 19 legislative caucus members emphatically denounced and condemned the Executive Order, describing it as “draconian.”
Delivering the statement on behalf of the 14 Representatives, Montserrado County Representative Henry Farhnbulleh said while cognizant of the fact that the Liberian Constitution guarantees democratically cherished inalienable rights, “we categorically reject any semblance of the return to junta rule and despotism.”
“We, therefore, unanimously caution the President to immediately rescind and retract such a tyrannical order which has the proclivity to thwart our nascent democracy.
“There shall be no reversal of the democratic gains we have made through the blood and sweat of our compatriots. We want to assure you, our fellow citizens, that we will do everything within the ambiance of the law to protect the Constitution, which we are under oath to uphold,” the lawmakers said.
The Montserrado County lawmakers expressed suspicion over the President’s declaration, terming it as “deliberate and with a sinister motive to antagonize only Montserrado County, where her son Robert is contesting and flagrantly violating the mandate of the Supreme Court and the National Elections Commission (NEC) with impunity.
Meanwhile, Representative Edward Forh of the opposition Congress for Democratic Change (CDC) called on the International Criminal Court (ICC) to focus their attention on Liberia during the closing stages of the regime of Madam Johnson Sirleaf.
Using state security to clamp down on political rivals is an abuse of power and contravenes fundamental human rights, Rep. Forh declared.
The caucus believed that allowing such a law to take effect in Liberia means that Liberians are facing a creeping threat to their fledgling democratic governance.