Opposition Congress for Democratic Change (CDC) has termed President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s quest to restrict certain rights under the Constitution as “a clear war against the civil liberty of the Liberian people.”
President Sirleaf on Wednesday, October 1, communicated with the 53rd National Legislature requesting the endorsement of both the House and the Senate, among others, to “restrict the movement and certain rights of individual citizens.”
Addressing a news conference in Monrovia Wednesday, CDC through its Youth League Chairman, Jefferson T. Koijee, noted that Madam Sirleaf’s letter to the Legislature is “tantamount to death to her citizens,” and as such, must be resisted by all well-meaning and law abiding Liberians.
Backed by the party’s National Executive Committee (NEC), CDC warned members of the Legislature to resist the temptation that comes with the President’s communication and ignore said request in order to protect and save the lives of thousands of Liberians that would be exposed to the danger if the President’s request is granted.
CDC further warned members of the Legislature not to attempt debating or introducing the letter on the floor of plenary, adding; “There are unspecified consequences awaiting those of our lawmakers that will fail to listen to the desire and demand of the people.”
“Any attempt to approve this request by our lawmakers will meet the stiffest resistance and we will have no regret for our action even if the President is to be a victim of the people’s action.
The interpretation of Madam President’s letter is that the country is at the verge of chaos. We represent the interest of the people and we want to assure the President and the entire government that any action that tempers with the rights of the people provokes a serious anger,” CDC said.
Koijee called on partisans and peace-loving Liberians to assemble at CDC’s headquarters in Congo Town Thursday morning to begin a “strong and peaceful protest against the President’s quest for more power.”
Meanwhile, civil society institutions in Liberia rejected in the strongest terms the President’s letter calling for additional power.
In a press statement issued in Monrovia Wednesday, the National Civil Society Council of Liberia (NCSCL) believes issues raised by the President in her letter to members of the National Legislature, “threaten civil liberty, stability of the state, and undermine the core of our democratic system of government, which effectively threatens the future of our country.”
NCSCL: “We are of the view that the current powers granted under the August 7 State of Emergency and the increased international support are sufficient to deal with the situation at hand, and the President does not need any extra-constitutional powers to ensure success in this.
“The request by the President to assume full authority above and beyond the provisions of Article 1, which alters the time and manner of elections, as well as several articles of Chapter 3, which seeks to limit various fundamental rights, as provided for under our Constitution, in our mind constitute an attempt to strengthen the powers of the presidency as opposed to the people.
“Liberian Civil Society notes that these actions do not propose to provide any more solace to our people than those that had been previously taken.”
The civil society actors concluded by calling on members of the Legislature to reject the letter in its entirety, and continue with the status quo.