Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Liberia: Citizens Gang Up Against Threshold Resolution

3 August 2010
Source: allAfrica.com

Former Press Union of Liberia (PUL), Mr. Abraham G. Massaley has announced that Liberia at home and in the United States have teamed up to challenge in the Supreme Court of Liberia the constitutionality of the controversial Threshold Resolution if signed into law by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.

Massaley who said he would lead the crusade in the interest of his people, who have made huge contributions, also announced that they will file a petition for a Writ of Prohibition against the National Elections Commission (NEC) to bar the commission from re-apportioning constituencies under the so-called resolution, if the commission attempts to do so.

A statement quoted the former PUL as saying that the Resolution is unconstitutional because "it contravenes Article 80 D and C, and it seeks to deprive thousands of Liberians of approximately equal representation in the National Legislature as required by the constitution.

Article 80 (d) of the Constitution states that "each constituency shall have an approximately equal population of 20,000, or such number of citizens as the legislature shall prescribe in keeping with population growth and movements as revealed by a national census; provided that the total number of electoral constituencies in the Republic shall not exceed one hundred."

Mr. Massaley indicated that a key point in their argument is that the legislature failed to prescribe population threshold for each constituency consistent with the 2008 census result, as required under Article 80 (d) and (c), but rather chose to arbitrarily dish out nine legislative seats without any constitutional basis.

He said the provision in the Threshold Resolution for counties to retain their number of house seats grossly violates Article 80 (c) which unambiguously requires the NEC to "re-apportion the constituencies immediately following a national census and before the next election in accordance with the new population figures so that every constituency shall have as close to the same population as possible.

According to Massaley, without clearly establishing population threshold, the Elections Commission will have no national criteria to constitutionally re-apportion constituencies in counties in counties that were arbitrarily assigned the nine extra seats, and added, "even more importantly, it is simply undemocratic and unconstitutional for some less populated areas of the country to enjoy more representation in the legislature than other populated areas."

For instance, the former PUL president said Porkpa and Gola Konneh in Grand Cape Mount County with the population of 42,000 and 23,000 respectively (2008 census) will have only one representative under the Threshold Resolution while Tewor District in the same county with the population of 27,000 will have a representative. He said Porkpa and Gola Konneh districts have a combined population of 65,000 which is approximately equal to the population of the entire River Gee County but River Gee will have three representatives.

Similarly, he said, Grand Kru County with a population of 57,000 will have two representatives while Kolahun District in Lofa County with a population of 60,000 will have only one representative. He said Rivercess County with a population of 71,000 will have two house seats as compare to River Gee with a population of 66,000 with three house seats.

He said Foya District in Lofa County with a population of 84,000, Gbarpolu County with the population of 83,000 and Sinoe County with a population of 102,000 will share the same number of house seats (three) each with Grand Cape Mount County which has the population of 127,000. Mr. Massaley feared that these less populated counties which already have two senatorial seats each will enjoy comparative advantage in the legislature because of their numerical strength.

According to him, the Supreme Court under Article 2 of the Constitution, "pursuant to its power of judicial review, is empowered to declare any inconsistent laws unconstitutional," noting that the legislature does not have unlimited powers that cannot be checked under our system of checks and balances. He said the resolution even defies President Sirleaf's constitutional arguments for vetoing the Threshold Bill on two separate occasions that the bill undermines Article 80 d and c. He said it is a sad for our democracy when 22 out of 64 house members can have so much "power" to pass the landmark legislation with far reaching political and economic consequences for the people.

"We must not only stop at criticizing the legislature for acting unconstitutionally, but we must send a clear message that their act of political expediency at the expense of the constitution undermines peace and stability in the country contrary to River Gee Senator Frederick Cherue's assertion that the threshold is based on political expediency to maintain peace in Liberia," he said.

He said the counties of Speaker Alex Tyler, President Pro Tempore Cletus Wotorson and Senator Cherue stand to benefit from this unfair distribution of power, noting this is why these three men are strongly backing the Threshold Resolution.

The former President said Senators and representatives cannot strive to maintain peace in Liberia by grossly undermining the constitution, pointing out that lawmakers do not have constitutional power to arbitrarily assign legislative seats or deprive other counties of seats, in the name of political expediency.

"While we support the holding of general elections on time, we must not being the electoral process by undermining the constitution as this sends a terrible message about the rule of law and sets the stage for unfairness in the upcoming election," Massaley indicated.

He said if the Supreme Court grants the petition, it will be a victory for "our people in the rural areas who are being deprived of fair representation in government and wish their educated children would advocate on their behalf. And that if the court chooses otherwise history will be kind to them for standing up when the constitution and the rule of law were under assault by the legislative and executive branches."

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Inside Liberia with Bernard Gbayee Goah

Everyone is a genius

Everyone is a genius. But if you judge a fish on its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid. – A Einstein

Drawing the line in Liberia

Crimes sponsored, committed, or masterminded by handful of individuals cannot be blamed upon an entire nationality. In this case, Liberians! The need for post-war justice is a step toward lasting peace, stability and prosperity for Liberia. Liberia needs a war crimes tribunal or some credible legal forum that is capable of dealing with atrocities perpetrated against defenseless men, women and children during the country's brutal war. Without justice, peace shall remain elusive and investment in Liberia will not produce the intended results. - Bernard Gbayee Goah

Men with unhealthy characters should not champion any noble cause

They pretend to advocate the cause of the people when their deeds in the dark mirror nothing else but EVIL!!
When evil and corrupt men try to champion a cause that is so noble … such cause, how noble it may be, becomes meaningless in the eyes of the people - Bernard Gbayee Goah.

If Liberia must move forward ...

If Liberia must move forward in order to claim its place as a civilized nation amongst world community of nations, come 2017 elections, Liberians must critically review the events of the past with honesty and objectivity. They must make a new commitment to seek lasting solutions. The track records of those who are presenting themselves as candidates for the position of "President of the Republic of Liberia" must be well examined. Liberians must be fair to themselves because results from the 2011 elections will determine the future of Liberia’s unborn generations to come - Bernard Gbayee Goah

Liberia's greatest problem!

While it is true that an individual may be held responsible for corruption and mismanagement of funds in government, the lack of proper system to work with may as well impede the process of ethical, managerial, and financial accountability - Bernard Gbayee Goah

What do I think should be done?

The situation in Liberia is Compound Complex and cannot be fixed unless the entire system of government is reinvented.
Liberia needs a workable but uncompromising system that will make the country an asylum free from abuse, and other forms of corruption.
Any attempt to institute the system mentioned above in the absence of rule of law is meaningless, and more detrimental to Liberia as a whole - Bernard Gbayee Goah

Liberia's Natural Resources
Besides land water and few other resources, most of Liberia’s dependable natural resources are not infinite, they are finite and therefore can be depleted.
Liberia’s gold, diamond, and other natural resources will not always be an available source of revenue generation for its people and its government. The need to invent a system in government that focuses on an alternative income generation method cannot be over emphasized at this point - Bernard Gbayee Goah

Liberia needs a proper system
If Liberians refuse to erect a proper system in place that promotes the minimization of corruption and mismanagement of public funds by government institutions, and individuals, there will come a time when the value of the entire country will be seen as a large valueless land suited on the west coast of Africa with some polluted bodies of waters and nothing else. To have no system in place in any country is to have no respect for rule of law. To have no respect for rule of law is to believe in lawlessness. And where there is lawlessness, there is always corruption - Bernard Gbayee Goah

Solving problems in the absence of war talks

As political instability continues to increase in Africa, it has become abundantly clear that military intervention as a primary remedy to peace is not a durable solution. Such intervention only increases insecurity and massive economic hardship. An existing example which could be a valuable lesson for Liberia is Great Britain, and the US war on terror for the purpose of global security. The use of arms whether in peace keeping, occupation, or invasion as a primary means of solving problem has yield only little results. Military intervention by any country as the only solution to problem solving will result into massive military spending, economic hardship, more fear, and animosity as well as increase insecurity. The alternative is learning how to solve problems in the absence of war talks. The objective of such alternative must be to provide real sustainable human security which cannot be achieved through military arm intervention, or aggression. In order to achieve results that will make the peaceful coexistence of all mankind possible, there must be a common ground for the stories of all sides to be heard. I believe there are always three sides to every story: Their side of the story, Our side of the story, and The truthBernard Gbayee Goah


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