The Administration Must Stop Playing with Liberia’s Constitution, Laws and Established Procedures

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The Sirleaf administration’s boldest attempt yet in challenging the nation’s Constitution was to vigorously push through the Legislature the so-called Code of Conduct, which denies Liberian-born citizens with absolutely no criminal record the right to contest national elections.

And when patriotic and law-abiding citizens did boldly what they had to do—challenging the Code of Conduct in the Supreme Court of Liberia—again the High Court declared the Code of Conduct “constitutional,” which it is not. Go and read the opinion of a former Chief Justice of Liberia, Frances Johnson Allison, published in the April 3, 2017 edition of the Daily Observer newspaper. You will see that nothing in the Constitution backs this infamous non-law, the so-called Code of Conduct.

Many Liberians fear that if this administration insists on implementing this infamous “law,” it could result to chaos and confusion, which could disrupt the coming elections.

Now this administration has done it again.

President Sirleaf suddenly last week issued Executive Order No. 84, transferring the Bureau of Fisheries from the Ministry of Agriculture, where it has consistently been since the administration of President W.V.S. Tubman. That is nearly a half century ago.

The President did this against the better judgment of some saner and more experienced people in her own administration. The question is, why now? Who is behind it? And for what motive? Why such a fundamental shift in a longstanding policy in the 11th hour of this administration?

Even more sadly and shockingly, Executive Order No. 84 has also reduced Liberia’s nautical miles from six to three, surrendering the nation’s precious fish stocks to powerful foreign fishing companies with larger boats. This will not only put Liberian fishermen out of business, but deprive Liberian children and youth of their fundamental source of protein—fish— needed to keep them alive. Remember, we are talking about over 60% of our population, yea the future of our country.

As the administration is in its final days in office, what now is its perception of the legacy it wishes to leave? How does Executive Order No. 84, which deprives Liberians and youth of protein, throws our fishermen out of business and surrenders our precious fish resources to foreigners—how do all of these impact this administration’s legacy?

The administration has already given away huge chunks of land to Malaysian oil palm growers. Now it wants to give away our water, too—the “broad Atlantic’s golden strand,” which President Edwin Barclay acknowledged as a portion of our great, God-given heritage? Remember how he challenged us to “defend the sacred heritage”?

The critical and alarming question we pose is: what have Liberian children done to Ellen that she wants to leave them denied of protein?

We wish, at this juncture, to make two appeals: first, to the new Agriculture Minister, Madam Seklau Wiles, to use her Animal Husbandry expertise and help promote and expand fishponds throughout the country, to include even lobster growing. She should engage Madam Estelle Liberty in Gbarnga in this great initiative.

Secondly, we call on the Liberia National Bar Association (LNBA) and other members of Civil Society to go to court and plead for the reverse of Executive Order 84 and restore Fisheries to Agriculture, as it has no place at Maritime.

The Bar Association is now thankfully revived, but we hear little of the national causes it has undertaken to move Liberia forward in good governance. Here is an opportunity to come forth and do something good and tangible for the country.

Authors

4 COMMENTS

  1. Observer,the sky isn’t falling.laws were made for reasons and let’s play by the rules.code of conduct is everywhere at workplace and is healthy because it’s all about transparency and level playing field. Natural born citizens of Liberia were given choices or options to choose. Even in Uncle Sam town,residency clause and code of conduct targeting election finances are in place to encourage accountability. We,the ppl, should give power to our laws to work for everyone. Me pa, I have different perspective on the code of conduct. Honestly, I am for the code of conduct.ouch!

  2. Observer, this opinion you published is not in the best interest of Liberia. The CoC was languishing in the corridors of power for many years. As a good public servant you did not talk against the negatives in the draft CoC. The cake is baked, let’s eat it and for once set in motion that Liberia and its prominent people, government and institutions respect laws. The CoC is declared law. The few (if true the one) citizens who new that laws are made to guide and control excesses, resigned from government. Those that you are pleading for should have taken cure, or consulted their legal advisers.
    Let the LAW STAND

  3. Thank you Daily Observer for revisiting the controversial Code of Conduct law; like all constitutions worldwide ours wasn’t etched in stone, and, needless to say that that hard solid substance isn’t immutable, either. No wonder, then, that there are procedures by which to improve, correct, or revise (in short, amend) the Liberian constitution. All that is required of citizens is to galvanize the momentum, and lobby, especially now, representatives and senators to initiate the process.

    This government is comprised of some very competent and capable people; however, some posit its Achilles’ heel is a president who is deified, and, hence, impatient of contrarian perspectives even from trusted aides and advisors. It would explain her hostility to public debates of policy proposals, or post-mortem of policy implementation. Thus, rightfully, or wrongfully, the perception of a mixture of magnanimity, manipulation, and malevolence – recipe for bad governance bothering on despotism.

    On the other hand, historically, is the behaviour of this embattled political leader unique in our country; or is it in the nature of the near absolute power the constitution grants to the highest office in the land, which earned it the unflattering nomenclature of “imperial presidency? The more reason, therefore, that it is both a moral and existential imperative that Liberians go beyond the Code of Conduct to critically review our constitution.

    Starkly put, it isn’t easy to swear that Tubman, Tolbert, Doe, Taylor, and Ellen should be declared bad leaders, or that their actions non – Liberian. It is easy, for example, outside the heat of combat to wrap ourselves around oversimplifications about the conduct of the war. The truth is that Liberia’s principal perennial problems won’t be wished away by such mindset. Coming to think of it, Hitler was elected Chancellor, and personally broke no German law in that capacity. As a matter of fact, most Germans adored him till his death. Folks, let’s take a long look at the constitution. It isn’t about us; it is about Liberia: thanks, Daily Observer.

  4. Executive Order No. 84 is an ill-advised if it is advised at all. It is crazy because making Law, you
    must consult for in the mountain of advises emerge wisdom. If this President is taking away from
    Liberia that which is genuinely, historically and /constitutionally hers, then the President has
    committed a grave injustice to the Republic and is subject to impeachment.

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