The answer to this question is clearly and succinctly answered in Article 54 of the Liberian Constitution.
Article 54 states: “The President shall nominate and, with the consent of the Senate, appoint and commission:
- cabinet ministers, deputy and assistant ministers;
- ambassadors, ministers and consuls;
- the Chief Justice and Associate Justices of the Supreme Court and judges of subordinate courts;
- superintendents, other county officials and officials of other political sub-divisions;
- members of the military from the rank of lieutenant or its equivalent and above; and
- marshals, deputy marshals and sheriffs.
We deem it necessary to make this constitutional clarification because this newspaper, Daily Observer, has received information that some influential members of the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) have reportedly been insisting on their “right” to name key members of government.
For example, we understand that at least one influential member of the coalition from Nimba County is insisting on naming the heads of five ministries!
We have also reliably learnt that a powerful and influential member of the outgoing government wants the right to name the heads of certain key ministries and agencies, including Foreign Affairs, Finance, Defense, Justice and Commerce.
There is yet another highly influential member of the coalition who is demanding the right to appoint all managing directors of public corporations!
The foregoing, if indeed true, is a blatant attempt to strip President George Weah of his constitutional authority; and we are positively sure that he will not succumb to such dictatorial tendencies of members of his coalition.
Once he takes the oath of office as President of Liberia, it becomes self-evident that he is in charge of the government and takes full responsibility of the conduct thereof. Implicit in the oath is that the President is responsible for all the good and the bad things that happen in government. So how can he be deprived of the constitutional privilege and responsibility of appointing the officials of government who will work closely with him in carrying out the functions of government?
This is not to say that the President has a right to be dictatorial—no! Let us recall that we have had Presidents of Liberia who have used their power given by the Constitution to their own personal benefit, to the detriment of the people.
Some became outright dictators.
We urge President Weah to avoid such a tendency. One way to do that is for him to implement the National Decentralization Policy, formulated by the Governance Commission, which urges the devolution of presidential power. This means amending the Constitution to remove that provision on presidential warrant on the expenditure of public funds.
It also means initiating a referendum to have city mayors and county superintendents elected, instead of being appointed by the President.
But the Constitution makes the President fully responsible for anything that happens in government and anything that the government does, whether for good or for ill.
Let us here recall the brief poem that talks about political responsibility:
“I’m glad I’m not a president;
and very glad I’m not a king.
There’s something grand about them,
But they’re blamed for everything.”
There is only one more point we wish to make in this Editorial: We have a democratically elected government, NOT an interim government.
We all know what interim governments, without exception, did to us in Liberia. In many of these interim arrangements, various political and military factions took important chunks of the government as they wished, and proceeded to squander the nation’s resources at will, and no one seemed to be able to do anything about it.
This is not the case today.
So we plead with all members comprising the Coalition for Democratic Change surely to lend their advice to President-elect Weah, which is their right and responsibility to do. But do not treat him as though he is the head of an interim government. He is not. He has been elected President of the Republic of Liberia, with all the rights, privileges and RESPONSIBILITIES appertaining thereto.