The Senate Must Seriously Examine House Members’ Request

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Article 54 (a) of the Liberian Constitution gives power to the President to appoint and commission, with the advice and consent of the Liberian Senate, Cabinet Ministers, Deputy and Assistant Ministers and Heads of Autonomous Entities.  In consonance with this constitutional provision, President George Weah last week appointed Tarplah Davis (alias Zoely Zoe) as Deputy Defense Minister for Operations and he is shortly to face the Liberian Senate for confirmation.  The confirmation process gives to the Senate ground either to accept or reject the President’s nomination.

As the Senate prepares for this all important national duty on today, December 5, some members of the House of Representatives have sent a warning to that august body not to confirm this appointed official.  The Representatives recall that this man, Tarplah Davis, if confirmed, would be a key figure in the national army.  They, the Representatives, quickly recalled that Tarplah Davis had made some threatening remarks against the citizens of the country.  He even pledged to kill some Liberian citizens if they protest against or criticize President George Manneh Weah.

A communication to Senate Pro-Tempore Albert Chie, submitted by some Representatives, including Hanson Kiazolu of Montserrado District #17, Rustonlyn Suacoco Dennis of Montserrado District #4, and Francis Dopoh of River Gee District #3, called on the Senate not to confirm Tarplah Davis.

Our Legislative reporter, Leroy Sonpon, III, quoted the letter as saying, “David Tarplah sometime in May and June 2019, promised to kill any of his fellow  Liberians should any of them, in a peaceful protest, damage or cause to damage his property during such  peaceful protest.”

The Representatives, in their statement to the Senate President Pro Temp, added, “We believe with if Mr. Davis could make such a statement when he was not in an official position, he would, if confirmed, believe that he has full authority to execute his plan against peaceful citizens.

“Mr. Pro-Tempore and members of the Senate, we, the independent Legislative Caucus within the Unity Party, pray your indulgence not to confirm Mr. Davis.  Such confirmation,” they warned, “would be to the detriment of the Liberian people.”

Since the resumption of democratic governance in Liberia following the civil war, this is the first time Representatives have come out openly to caution the Senate about confirming a public official appointed by the President of the Republic. The Senate has usually conducted its business publicly without such a warning from members of the House of Representatives, and Senators have confirmed or rejected people on the basis of what the Senate deemed necessary to facilitate its decision.

This caution by Members of the House compels the Daily Observer also to call on the Senate to consider seriously the peace and security of Liberia and Liberians as they, the Senators, commence their confirmation process.  We urge the Senate to be meticulous in examining the nomination before confirming or rejecting.

The first thing the Senate must do in engaging in this particular confirmation process is to investigate scrupulously (carefully, meticulously) those threats allegedly made by Tarplah Davis to “kill peaceful protesters” against President Weah’s government.  The Senate needs to take into consideration that this is a man who will, by virtue of his appointment, weigh very heavily on the operations of the national army, the AFL, which is mandated to protect Liberia and its citizens from external and internal aggression, observing human rights in totality without prejudice.

Should such a person be confirmed to be involved in any way with this critical national security body that many reckon to be the most trusted security apparatus now in the country, we are afraid that such confirmation would be dragging Liberia and its people back to the days when the army was under direct control of a tribal group and taking instructions from a tribal head. That, we can never afford to forget, led to the 14 years of anarchy and massive bloodshed and destruction of the country.

We have also heard in recent days how a notorious former rebel general, Augustine Nagbe (alias General Power), threatened to form a “Kru Defense Force” to protect President Weah, who is also Kru.  Nagbe posits (speculates) that the state security cannot protect the President.  Even though the public is yet to know what becomes of General Power, his threatening statements, being is very similar to those attributed to Davis’, brings to mind how Samuel Doe’s regime reduced the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) almost exclusively to members of the Krahn ethnic group, who went about indiscriminately killing innocent people of other tribes, Gio and Mano people in particular in the 1980s and early 1990s.

Besides the statement attributed to Davis, the Senate, which represents the entire country, needs also to consider other factors that are counterproductive to reconciliation, equity and the Liberian Constitution.

In the George Weah Administration, the majority of key government officials, including ministers, deputy ministers and most directors of autonomous agencies are from the southeast, basically composed of members of the Kru and Krahn tribes.

Some ministries, agencies and public institutions with heads and deputies from the Kru and Krahn tribes are Ministry of Finance and Development Planning; Ministry of Commerce and Industry; Ministry of Information, Cultural Affairs & Tourism; Ministry of Public Works; the Central Bank of Liberia; the University of Liberia; the National Housing Authority; the Liberia National Police; the General Services Agency; the Liberia Revenue Authority; the Liberia Airport Authority; and the National Port Authority, amongst others.

Furthermore, the Senate itself and the House are headed by lawmakers from the southeast and of the same political party.

This concentration of public officials from a set of closely related tribes contradicts Article 5(c) of the Liberian Constitution, which states that the Republic shall take steps by appropriate legislation and executive orders to eliminate sectionalism and tribalism.

Article 18 of the same Constitution states that every Liberian is given equal opportunity for work and employment in government or the private sector regardless of sex, creed, religion, ethnic background, place of origin or political affiliation. We strongly hold the view that this aristocratic setup, prioritizing certain tribes, undermines reconciliation, equity and violates the Constitution.

It is, therefore, our plea that the Senate considers all factors that undermine our Constitution and national existence and act appropriately so that the peace of this country may be sustained and protected and every Liberian feels equally protected a part of the process.

4 COMMENTS

  1. Senators and lawmakers should know where we come from. They should understand that no one is “too man” than the others.
    Some of us have been mindful of urging in an illiterate government. We suffered the consequences for 14 years in a very brutal war of fratricide.

    Let’s not forget our recent past. That Davis is disqualified from holding public office, especially to have commands over people who keep our armory. DO NOT CONFIRM him!

    Having said the above however, I am sure of one thing. No level of drunkenness will ever push any rebel General Power or AWOL Davis to shoot peaceful demonstrators.
    WE BET YOU GUYS!

    The first shot fired in Liberia will be the last ever on the Liberian soil. So, to you our honorable senators, the ball is in your court; start and end the fire or keep our high fetched and earnestly desired peace.

    • To The Liberian Senate,
      Please do not allow brown envelopes and other political maneuverings to influence your decisions regarding the confirmation of Zoely Zoe for the Defense Ministry and Mr. Aloysius Tarlue for the Central Bank of Liberia. The confirmation of Zoely Zoe especially is a recipe for future conflict in this Nation on your watch.

      There are other educated, qualified and talented Liberians, given the opportunity, can better serve and contribute to the growth and development of our Nation. The south-eastern region, with a total population of less than 20% of the overall population of Liberia should not have a monopoly over employment in government at the detriment of majority Liberians.

      The message contained in the editorial staff piece written by the Daily Observer above should serve as a warning to all of us. Liberia is made up of 16 ethnic groups, with the majority of its population concentrated in five major counties-Bong, Lofa, Nimba, Margibi, and Grand Bassa counties, yet, these major counties represent less than 20% of the total appointments of key officials of Weah’s CDC Government.

      It must be noted that President Weah’s appointments of almost 80% of key officials of the Liberian Government on ethnic lines, from his Kru and Krahn ethnic groups from the south-eastern region, as observed in the story, is a dangerous trend that must be discouraged. This discriminatory appointment of officials of the Liberian Government on ethnic lines alienates majority Liberians and sets the stage for hatred and future conflict in this Nation.

      Where’s the inclusive government promised the Liberian people? A Hint to the wise is sufficient.

  2. Before I go into any further about Mr. Tarplah Davis appointment, my question is this: Is Mr. Davis a citizen of Liberia or of the United States? Furthermore, is he a permanent resident of the United States. I must warn Mr. Davis that if he is a citizen of the United States and is still serving in the United States Military he is subject by the laws of the United States. Mr. Davis must be careful not to break any laws of the United States. If he does, we will petition the the United States judiciary system for redress. So Mr. Davis, be aware that you are on record of your threat to the security of our country, The Republic of Liberia and it’s citizens. Your behaviour will not go unnoticed!

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