Presidential Transition Act Surfaces at Legislature

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Former President of Liberia, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf

Sirleaf seeks security, logistics, annual budget for former Presidents and Vice Presidents; suggests immunity

By Leroy M. Sonpon, III and Abednego Davis

With the elections approximately six weeks away, the winner off the popular vote will be entitled to just a brief moment to gloat and then get down to the business of assuming leadership of the country.  And from the day the President-elect and Vice President-elect are announced, a series of transitional activities must take place leading up to inauguration.

President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has submitted a new bill (act) to the Legislature that, if passed into law, will be titled, The Presidential Transitional Act of 2017. The bill makes room for, among other things, any logistical, political, security, appropriative and other activities that would be required for the smooth transfer of political power between the President and Vice President and the President-elect and Vice President-elect, respectively.

The act will seek for former presidents and vice presidents to be provided with adequate and appropriate security, as may be from time to time and be determined by the director of the Executive Protection Service (EPS) in consultation with the former presidents and vice presidents. It also provided that in no event shall the security detail around the former president be less than five armed security personnel, and around the former vice president be less than three at all times.

In identical letters to the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the Senate Pro-Tempore, President Sirleaf said, “The aim of the draft law is to set up a framework for the smooth transfer of political power and governance and build a strong foundation that would enhance the democratic value for sustainable peace.” The letter was read on Tuesday, August 22 to the Lower House in session.

“The Act when passed into law, will continue the path of peaceful resolution, smooth transition of political power and governance, stability and a sustained democratic development,” the President wrote. “Liberia needs continuity, peace and smooth transition of political power from one elected president to another. l, therefore, request your kind and timely consideration to enacting into law this important legislation that is germane in keeping the long peace enjoyed in Liberia.”

Immunity necessary?

The President seemed to volley the idea of immunity, the necessity of which the Legislature may choose to consider. On that issue, the President argued that other countries are “striving to consolidate and sustain their fledgling democracies” and so “incorporate provisions of immunity for former presidents and vice presidents.” She said such a provision on immunity encourages outgoing leaders not to perpetuate themselves in office.

“I have not sought to include such a provision (immunity) into this law,” the President noted. “Instead, l have thought to defer to the wisdom of the Legislature to determine if it will be deemed necessary (to have) an immunity provision that would contribute to the promotion of a healthy, vibrant and irreversible path for our country,” the President stated.

The House’s Plenary has mandated the Committees on Judiciary, Good Governance and Government Reform, and Executive to review and advise the body on Tuesday, August 29.

According to Sirleaf, the former president and former vice president shall be provided, by the General Services Agency (GSA) or any successor agency, such suitable office spaces appropriately equipped with furniture, furnishings, office machines and equipment and supplies within the Republic of Liberia for the rest of their natural lives. On the issue of vehicles, the bill said, former presidents shall be provided two vehicles and former vice presidents, one vehicle. For budget, the bill provides that there shall be an annual budget appropriately for the upkeep of the former president and the former vice president, which shall be subject to cost of living adjustment for the rest their natural lives.

On their dependents, the bill said, the surviving spouse and legal minor dependents of former presidents and vice presidents shall be entitled to one -third of the annual budgetary appropriation referred to above, respectively. “The spouse shall receive said amount for  his/her natural life, and the legal minor dependents shall continue to receive said amount until they reach age 18,” the bill added. The law will also establish an arrangement or a mechanism for the proper management of the transfer of political power or administration from one democratically elected president to another democratically elected president.

According to the law, it will be applicable and triggered immediately after the declaration of the winner of the presidential election in any year the election is held, beginning with the 2017 elections, and where the incumbent occupant of the office of the president is not declared winner in accordance with the Constitution.

When the law is passed, there will be a Joint Presidential Transition Team, in which the president will appoint 15 persons and the president-elect, 15 persons. The decision of a transition team shall be made by consensus and any disagreement will be resolved by the president and the president-elect.

Other African Countries

In Ghana, the new amendment of the Presidential (Transition) Act of 2012, says the outgoing president and his vice would be required to vacate the official bungalows one month before the swearing-in of the new president on January 7. The Act also grants the office administrator general legal powers to forcefully evict an outgoing president and his or her vice when they exceed the grace period.

36 COMMENTS

  1. Increadible Madam Sirleaf, thanks for your service to nation. Hopefully such bill be considered, if it does not defeat big government spending!

  2. Haha the funny thing about the proposed immunity law is the key word,encourage. Our constitution allows two terms so why should a president who has spent two terms in office should be encouraged to leave. Um is Ellen leaving with a heavy heart

  3. wow, there she goes again, this woman never ceases to amaze me. Why should we provide you vehicles and pension. cant you take your money and purchase your own car. CSA should have established a retirement package for all government employees, including the president.no free car nor gas slips madam- soon to be -former president. Enjoy all that you have collected from our country, your time is up.

  4. After leaving government, why can’t our high-priced employees just go back to milking cows and goats on their farms instead of continuously milking the poor Liberian taxpayer?? Transition Act, my arse!

  5. “99 days for rouge, one day for the master!” Go to http://www.mastersday.com and vote to end corruption in Liberia! With abject poverty, ritualistic killings, excessive salaries and benefits of politicians and skyrocketing unemployment amongst our youths, continuing with 170 years of a broken and corrupt system is totally unjustifiable. Furthermore, allocating money for rich former public servants who acquired their wealth from the national revenue is a dangerous act against the will of the people! This is another evidence that Liberia’s corrupt, deadly and broken representative system of governance was designed by politicians to empower politicians and enslave and rob citizens. In 2017, there is an option for citizens yearning for change to use the ballot in their hands to terminate corruption at age 170! 30 years from now, Liberia will be 200 years old with nothing to show if our ballots only empower politicians. If we give Liberia a fresh start in 2017, then, in 30 years Liberia will experience a resurrection from the dead. IS there any meaning to Article I: “All power is inherent in the people. All free governments are instituted by their authority and for their benefit… “? The benefit for politicians is clear but where is the benefit for the citizens? Liberian citizens have the right and duty to change our current system because our “happiness and safety” have been compromised by the government. Please go to http://www.mastersday.com and join the Citizens Independence Movement.

  6. “…There was a time though when rigorous scholarship of the PhD variety meant truth – seeking, principles, convictions, and empathy for the undeserved plight of others, but in Ellen’s Liberia many of our so – called best and brightest were paid for with funds that should’ve been put to better use in peace – building initiatives…”-Sylvester Moses

    The wisdom embedded in this bill which obviously flew over pinheads is the incentive for would-be ex-presidents to relinquish power to successors smoothly, without any apprehension for retribution or vengeance thereafter, save for any mal/misfeasance as the case may be. Were any of you alive, for example, to recall the recent (Dec, 2016) Gambian scenario? “Just saying,” too. …Carpe diem!

  7. Erratum: A mixed up of postage here as you can tell. The quote preceding the subsequent comment about the president’s bill was intended for another article-Independence oration. How the 2 got mixed, is one of those computer complexities. Oh well!

    • “The quote preceding the SUBSEQUENT comment…”
      Are you sure you did not mean to say, “…the PREVIOUS comment…”?
      Please don’t blame Your Computer. Maybe you simply misspoke.

      CMSC-101:
      GARBAGE-IN, GARBAGE-OUT

    • Africans are the only group of still prosecuting their former leaders. The reason we have a presidential pardon build in to the constitution is for the current president to protect the former leader from humiliation.
      Example, when US president Nixon was committed the watergate crime he was impeached but President Jerald Ford save him from prosecution and humiliation by pardoning the guy.
      However since many Liberians leaders are so unforgiving and vindictive, it makes sense for the former president to have immunity or else they would leave power.

  8. There should be no immunity and no benefits but rather arrests and trials in an International Economic Crimes Court for all prominent members of this corrupt regime. That will serve as a deterrent for future economic criminals​ and bring good governance to the Liberian people.

  9. During her term almost 90% of the bills signed by the house came from her desk. What is the purpose of the so-called legislature?

  10. Why should the president worries about security and immunity as the early time? Is she afraid of something ahead? I think it necessary that you leave that idea of immunity and security with the incoming president. Do not be afraid of going somewhere. No one is going anywhere, we will all be here in peace.

  11. I don’t agree with immunity – sounds like a text from Trump playbook on pardons.

    It sets a bad precedent. That president will commit crimes with impunity because of this guarantee of immunity.

    This is a very bad law.. if your heart is clear and if your hands are clean then you should not need immunity.

    This will be the beginning of the destruction of Liberia

    VERY VERY BAD LAW

  12. The Legislature might as well grant blanket immunity to all war crimes’ suspects, release all convicts from jail, abolish the statute of limitations for the investigations into the suspicious drowning deaths of Greaves, Allison, to not be reopened, etc. By the way, popular former Brazilian president de Sontos was sentenced to ten years for corruption while in power.

    But EJS shouldn’t be investigated or audited in the interest of reconciliation and national cohesion.

    Again, let history be our guide. Liberians goaded young soldiers to kill Tolbert and twelve other officials for rampart corruption and so on, yet “rampart corruption” jumped one hundred times since their deaths. For heaven’s sake, as vindictive and unforgiving as she is, it would be disgraceful to indulge in revenge by disgracing Africa’s first female president.

    Reference immunity for presidents and Vice Presidents, EJS shouldn’t push her luck. No democratic country would pass such an irrational law. Liberians are going to forgive her many financial transgressions, not give license for future ones.

    The tasks ahead are too grave for frivolousness. Our political leaders should think of transforming Liberia into a gigantic construction site engaged in infrastructure development that uses all available able – bodied Liberians. Full employment will hum our economy for our own test of the Chinese miracle. Think positive, folk.

  13. Wow!!!! Ellen Jihnson-Sirleaf again. So are the lawmakers going to agree to this one again? With all of the allegations levied against Ellen, her Vice President Boikai, and her children, does she want to runaway from justice? Dear God, we need your help immediately.

  14. Given the tremendous amount of corruption in which this UP government has engaged for more than a decade, one would be a fool or a traitor to consider, let alone support, passage of any version of this bogus bill only designed to further rob the poor people of Liberia of their meager resources. Rather why not commission some reputable firms to conduct credible and comprehensive audits of the Presidential and Vice Presidential offices to enable the nation recover most, if not all, of the loot stolen by these kleptomaniacs.

  15. She is really going out of her mind and behaving as someone living alone in a haunted house. You better prepare to spend the rest of your life in prison for your war crimes, and subsequently IN HELL for your BLOOD DRENCHED LIFE. WICKED, VAIN, BAD, AND VERY FOOLISH WOMAN!

  16. The draft Presidential Transition Act submitted by the President needs a thorough scrutiny by the Legislators if it should be considered for passage into Law, considering its fiscal implications especially. In my opinion, in part, this Act seeks to create, among others things, financial burdens on succeeding government with trikel down effects on the already economically improverished Liberians. The instrument is cleverly hinged on smooth transitions of President, Vice President, maintaining peace and among others to sentimentally appeal to the emotions and consciences of the Legislators and the Liberian Public. It has serious economic implications for the Liberian State and its people.
    Additionally, this Act seeks to test the patriotic and nationalistic postures of the Lawmakers, and I am worried that they, too, will not do their business as usual, especially so when their interests of benefits as former government officials are addressed by the Act.

  17. Whatever the intent of the Act is, its important to point out that Liberia requires some framework to work with after Sirleaf. Ellen, inherited a nation that was totally broken. While it is true, to some extent, she has not met the expectations of many of us who oppose her policies, under her administration Liberia witnessed relative peace compared to the barbaric acts of violence that occurred prior to her coming into power. Someone may as well argue that she was part of it. But that is not the point here. We need to move forward as a nation after she is gone. Also Liberia’s situation can be traced back to the impact of racism on former slaves and the inter generational violence they perpetrated on the indigenous people of Liberia; as well as indigenous people crimes against one another. There is no one cause. There is the culture of corruption, nepotism and many more which so many of us Liberians are part of. So, lets not be self righteous. Liberia’s development will take time and requires relative peace and stability. Lets support the presidential transition Act, if it will encourage a smooth transition. We all have faults, but lets not screw up what was started even if its not perfect. Its easy to argue with grandeur, but common sense, tell us that if Ellen is gone what can we do for our selves to make things better and fix the country. Learning from where she failed and build on some of her successes. Take care people.

  18. Why ask for immunity when your hands are clean? Is it the same immunity that Gyude Bryant got when you jailed him? Or Charles Taylor got when you turned him over to be prosecuted. Oh wow! If this nonsense bill is passed, it will be trashed by the next government like she did with the code of conduct. Bad Act, don’t pass it.

  19. Wicked, vain, and corrupt, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, “MILKING” THE STATE DURING AND AFTER, multiplied by IMMUNITY DURING AND AFTER, equals=IMPUNITY FOR LIFE!

    If such could ever be allowed, THE ABUSES OF POWER BY INCUMBENTS would be so rampant, unlawful, inhuman, and barbaric, that there would be no need for statutory laws, the Constitution, or even the courts you have made to bow to your evil and selfish desires, and disregard the law a misconduct by justices of the Supreme Court which has now become a JUDICIARY NORM AND STANDARD during your incumbency as President and Chief Executive.

    So, just know that you will have to pay for your war crimes, and your killing of Harry A. Greaves Jr., Cllr. Michael Allison, etc.etc.

  20. I hope the lawmakers are reading all these comments from Liberians on this proposed bill of immunity for Ellen.

    I am sured if this bill is considered favourably for her, others in the legislature like Prince Johnson etc will demand inclusion.

    What she is asking for is already in the constitution for former president and other officials that leave office honorably, so why this request for this protective law that sounds like amnesty around the TRC.

  21. But she lie. We will lay her Down at the intersection of Broad and Randall Streets and tie her to cords attached to trucks parked at the end of Randall Street South Beach and Waterside, and at the end of Broad Street Ducor side and Crown Hill. And at the count of 4, the four trucks will move to tear her to pieces.

  22. And you Dempster Yallah trying to justify your ILLEGAL pay check on Ellen’s – Lawyer’s Governance Commision payroll:

    ECOWAS TROOPS ARE EVERREADY TO DEAL WITH ANY SUCH SCENARIO WITH REFERENCE TO THE DECEMBER 2016 TRANSITION IN GAMBIA.

  23. If this bill is passed by the Legislature, it will be a terrible disservice to good governance, democratic values and respect for civil liberties in the country. Why? Simple answer: it will give license and comfort to any present and future President/Vice President to treat Liberians
    in whatever shoddy way and misappropriate their resources in which ever way without any remorse, knowing he/she will not be held accountable for such crimes against the country and it’s people after he/she exits power. The legislature will guarantee freedom, democracy and accountability in our country by not passing this bill into law. Posterity will hold them responsible if they do otherwise. If madam President knows she ran the country well and has nothing to hide or account for, she has no reason to worry after leaving office. Alas, the fact that she can even come up with such a bill just when she is about to exit sweet power, would indicate, as one poster has already observed, that something is smelling somewhere.

  24. But the Legislature shall never pass this nonesense into law. If she knew the DEGREE AND INTENSITY OF HATRED majority members of both Houses (even those of her ruling party) vehemently have against her, and only want to see her behind bars, she would not have put forward such bullcrap. And the worst part about it is that the very Brumskine, and Cummings, she stupidly believed would save her are so much far far far away from winning any election in Liberia before she is stripped of powers.

    The damn woman is too insulting and foolish. After such disgraceful and very barbaric misrule on her part, she wants the Legislature to behave as her little puppies (Philip Banks, Kabineh Janeh, Seine Yuoh, Jamesetta Howard Wolokolie) she appointed on the Supreme Court Bench to lick her mess. What a bastardly act on her part!!!! The woman is very evil. The evidence is how she has treated her own VP after using him to propell herself to power. And this is why she is so isolated, and wish she could just disappear to escape her waiting imprisonment.

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