Liberia: Human rights lawyer calls for president’s resignation

A prominent Liberian human rights lawyer, Cllr. Tiawan Saye Gongloe, has called on President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf to resign honorable as President and let Vice President Joseph N. Boakai carry on until the next elections. Liberia’s next Presidential And General Elections are due 2017, Heritageliberia reports.

According to Cllr. Gongloe, if President Johnson-Sirleaf does not heed to his call, then, the House of Representatives, in the supreme interest of the Liberian nation and people, should impeach her. The astute Liberian human rights lawyer wants the President to resign because, according to him, she ‘violated’ the Liberian Constitution by appointing her sons to key positions in government.

The Constitution is regarded as the organic law of the country. He made the call on Friday, November 16, 2012 when he delivered a keynote speech at the 42nd Anniversary Celebration of the Vanguard Student Unification Party (SUP) at the auditorium of the main Campus of the University of Liberia (UL) on Capitol Hill, Monrovia.

Speaking further, the former Solicitor General and Labor Minister in the Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf-led government pointed out that the Liberian Leader cannot place herself above the Constitution of Liberia. He averred that President Johnson-Sirleaf is not at liberty to place her family interest above the interest of Liberia.

Listen to the fearless Liberian human rights lawyer: “ President Sirleaf’s appointment of her sons to positions in government is in clear violation of the Constitution of Liberia. It is therefore, a violation of her oath of office as President of Liberia. She does not have the right to violate the Constitution of Liberia.”

He continued: “In a country of great men and women, should any president violate the constitution and go free? The answer to this question is a resounding no. A violation of the Constitution of Liberia by a President is an impeachable offense. No president has the right to choose not to respect the Constitution of Liberia, the people’s own law.

No President of Liberia has the right to break the law and still expect to enjoy the respect and trust of the people under the authority of the same constitution. Our country is a democracy where governance is by the people, of the people and for the people based upon the rule of law.”

He argued that Article 5c of the 1986 Constitution of Liberia states that nepotism is an abuse of power and a corrupt practice. He acknowledged that President Johnson-Sirleaf has done some good things for transforming Liberia from a failed state to a normal functioning state, for which she will always be remembered by all well-meaning Liberians. But he insisted that these cannot serve as a justification for breaking the organic law of the country.

“The rule of law must prevail, if Liberia must be peaceful, progressive and prosperous,” he among other things added.
But President Johnson-Sirleaf had repeatedly defended the appointment of sons in key positions in her government. The President appointed her son, Roberts Alvin Sirleaf as her senior adviser and Chairman of the state-owned National Oil Company of Liberia(NOCAL), another, Charles Sirleaf- Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Liberia(CBL) and the third-Fumba Sirleaf, head of the National Security Agency(NSA).

Several months ago, Charles was amongst dozens of government officials suspended by the President (his mother) for not declaring his assets. However, Charles later reportedly declared his assets in line with the President’s suspension order.

Despite persistent calls for her to fire her sons, the President had vowed not to do so. She made the vow when she spoke in an exclusive interview with RNW’s Africa Desk after she received an Honorary Doctorate Degree at Tilburg University in the Netherlands on 9 November 2012.The Tilburg University honored the Liberian leader in recognition of her leadership and her interest in education and social responsibility.

Of late, President Johnson-Sirleaf had been heavily criticized by some Liberians for appointing her sons in key positions in government because, according to them, the act was nepotistic. Notably amongst the Liberians who criticized President Johnson-Sirleaf for such act is Nobel Laureate Leymah Gbowee. Madam Gbowee jointly won the 2011 version of the Nobel Peace Prize together with fellow Liberian, President Johnson-Sirleaf and Yemeni activist Tawakkol Karman.

While in Paris France few months ago to promote the French edition of her book, “Mighty Be Our Powers”, Nobel Laureate Gbowee resigned as chair of the nation’s Peace and Reconciliation Commission on grounds that the Johnson-Sirleaf led government has made no sufficient progress in promoting reconciliation, also blaming the Johnson-Sirleaf administration of not only condoning corruption but also of practicing nepotism.

Madam Gbowee , who stated that she stands guilty of betraying the people’s trust by working in a government that is guilty of closing its eyes to corruption in high places, views her resignation as an act of forgiveness from a raging conspiracy that President Sirleaf has awarded “lucrative jobs” to her sons in a blatant act of nepotism.

Among other things, she added that the president’s appointment of her sons in key government positions was unacceptable. But commenting further on her stance that she will not fire sons, the president stated: “ No, I will not. There is a mandate and there’s a job to be done. When that job and mandate is done, perhaps they’ll move on to other things.”

Quizzed during the interview to explain the appointment of three sons in high government positions, she said: “We have a country that has a very low capacity. Some of our institutions – the ones that have to carry out the important reforms for the transformation of our country – simply do not have the capabilities. They also sometimes lack the sufficient integrity to be able to do what is right.”

Said President Johnson-Sirleaf: “We have to place certain people close to us in positions to carry out our mandate of reform at the level of competence and honesty that is needed. Nepotism is putting somebody who is a relative in a position for which they don’t have the qualifications, integrity or competence. There are times when you have to hire relatives, even when it’s a temporary measure, to achieve your objectives.” See pages 6&7 for the full text of Cllr. Gongloe’s keynote speech.

Leave a Reply