Trying and Testing Times for Our National Constitution

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And the drama continues with the judiciary and legislature seemingly drawn in a game of ninepins. For all what it is or appears to be, the Constitution of the Republic of Liberia may become subject to strains never hitherto imagined. These are indeed trying and testing times for our national Constitution.

At the heart of the matter is a seemingly unobtrusive provision of the Constitution in Article 43 which, amongst other things, provides that, “The Legislature shall prescribe the procedure for impeachment proceedings which shall be in conformity with the requirements of due process of law”.

By all accounts, this provision of the Constitution clearly indicates that only the Legislature can prescribe the procedures for impeachment and the Legislature in this case means, implies and refers to the House of Representatives and the House of Senate agreeing on a set of rules to govern impeachment proceedings.

In view of this the public is wont to question just what is all the ruckus about when the Senate could have easily sent its adopted rules to the House of Representatives for concurrence and avoided what is now threatening to be a Constitutional crisis.

In the opinion of this newspaper, an opinion largely shaped by the experience of the past, Chief Justice Korkpor, rather than creating a constitutional crisis by recusing himself will more likely than not opt to preside over the trial of Justice Ja’neh.

And lest we forget, this trial of Associate Justice J’aneh is by no means a fully judicial proceeding. This is because basically no standard of proof is required as would be the case otherwise.

All it will require will be a majority vote of the Senate and Justice J’aneh will see the door based not on proof of the allegations levied against him but on the fancies and disposition of members of the Senate.

This newspaper holds the view that these are indeed trying times for the nation and its fledgling democracy as the relevance of its Constitution continues to be called into question.

However it is the firm opinion of this newspaper that such adversity can be overcome only with “more and repeated doses of democracy”. In view of this, it can be expected that along the way, there will be many more tests to our democracy and national resolve.

Accordingly our national institutions would have to be prepared to absorb the shocks without losing their defining character. But in all of this, leadership is the key.

As it appears, the country suffers from a perennial leadership deficit. And it is not helped by cringing, self-seeking sycophants who naively believe that they can turn back the clock to the dark past of this nation’s history.

And just as their inordinate greed has without doubt created wealth for them, it has likewise and also created insecurity for them. And it is this fear of losing what they have acquired overnight is what drives and feeds their fears causing them to see conspiracies in every movement or flutter of the eye.

All this comes back to President Weah as leader of the nation. Many in the public tend to interpret Ja’neh’s impeachment proceedings as signs of an emergent shift towards tyranny and despotism given the oddities attending the exercise.

This view appears grounded in the perception that Ja’neh’s woes are due to his  stance on the issues that provoked the 2017 elections imbroglio. The perception also holds that CDC zealots and hardliners are out to exact revenge to send home the message that opposition to the CDC is a sure guarantee to an uncertain political future.

Such a perception has, as of late, been given a boost with the revelations contained in the leaked audio tape with the voice of now suspended Bong County Superintendent, recounting her ordeal at the hands of top officials of this government and President Weah within earshot of the exchanges between her and the officials.

Whatever be the case this newspaper must as always, warn against any attempt to turn back the hands of the clock. As noted earlier, there are individuals around President Weah who appear all too anxious and prepared to instill fear in the population through the outright use of violence or the threat of it to ensure their dominance of the political landscape.

We can only urge President Weah to deeply reflect on those despots who came before him and the cruel fates that befell them.

We are reminded of this in Romans 2:8-9 which says “but to those who are selfishly ambitious and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, wrath and indignation. There will be tribulation and distress for every soul of man who does evil, of the Jew first and also of the Greek.”

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