“Prez Sirleaf Violated Articles in 1986 Constitution”

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Grand Bassa County Senator Jonathan Kaipay has accused President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf of violating several Articles of the 1986 Constitution by failing to submit verbatim (word for word) a copy of the Constitution Review Commission’s (CRC) report to the Legislature.
Instead, Senator Kaipay noted, the President chose to act on the report by approving and disapproving some of the propositions contained in it before finally submitting it to the Legislature.
In a letter dated August 26,and read before plenary yesterday, Senator Kaipay reminded his colleagues that the Gbarnga Convention chaired by former Chief Justice, Gloria Musu Scott, “in the exercise of this constitutional provision, approved 25 propositions out of the many suggestions from the 73 electoral districts in the country.”
The propositions, according to Kaipay, were to be subsequently presented to the President for onward submission to the Legislature for enactment including a call for referendum on the 25 suggestions.
According to Sen. Kaipay, the action of President Sirleaf firstly invalidates the inherent right of citizens under Article 1, which states that “All power is inherent in the people…” The 25 propositions, the Grand Bassa lawmaker asserted, “therefore established the fact that the people have spoken through the CRC. They have sent a message by the CRC to the Legislature to be acted upon. Hence, the President has no authority to unilaterally interfere with the people’s mandate to their lawmakers.”
Sen. Kaipay’s letter further accused the President of being in breach of Article 35 of the Constitution, which says that, “Each bill or resolution, which shall have passed both houses of the Legislature shall before it becomes law, be laid before the President for his/her approval…”
The action of President Sirleaf as noted by Kaipay is also in violation of Article 91which, among other things, stipulates that the Constitution may be amended through a proposal by either two-thirds of the membership of both Houses of the Legislature, or a petition submitted to the Legislature by not fewer than 10,000 citizens. The petition receives the concurrence of two-thirds of the membership of both houses in the Legislature, is ratified by two-thirds of the registered voters, voting in a referendum conducted by the Elections Commission not sooner than one year after the action of the Legislature.
Kaipay wondered whether the President’s action is an attempt to erode both the implicit and explicit confidence of the Liberian people in our ability to respect and articulate their views, as well as to seek their interests and welfare. He further wondered whether President Sirleaf’s apparent takeover of the function of the Legislature was intended to subject them (lawmakers) to undue public ridicule of being members of a “rubber-stamp Legislature,” or a Legislature that behaves like a “toothless bull dog.”
“I therefore appeal that plenary request President Sirleaf to make an official withdrawal of her points of agreement and disagreement with certain aspects of the CRC’s report, which she submitted to the Senate on August 13. The Legislature must be allowed to carry out its mandate independent of interference from the Executive.”
Meanwhile, Sen. Kaipay’s letter was sent to the Committee on Judiciary, chaired by Grand Cape Mount County Sen. Varney G. Sherman, for recommendations to plenary.
It may be recalled that President Sirleaf in presenting the CRC report to the Legislature, disagreed with some of the 25 propositions approved in the Gbarnga Convention, while agreeing with some, including those that call for the term of the President to be reduced to four years along with members of the House of Representatives, and welcomed the position of dual citizenship.
She also agreed that the Senate’s term must be reduced from nine years to six, and that the position of the Vice President serving as President be scrapped, since he is a member of the Executive branch of government. She however, disagreed with the proposition that Liberia should be declared a Christian state, but supported the idea of dual citizenship.
In another development, the Senate yesterday received a letter from President Sirleaf, requesting that body to delay its annual break for six weeks, to enable it to attend to several bills and acts she recently submitted to the Senate for approval or ratification.
Plenary voted to decide on the President’s request during its executive session.

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