Liberia’s Legislature Should Take A Cue on Separation of Powers From US Speaker’s Display in Recent Government Shutdown Battle with President Donald Trump


THE GAPS between Liberia and the United States of America is without a stretch a long one. But if the lessons from the recent government shutdown between the lower house of the US and President Donald Trump is anything to go by, it showed the resolve and mental toughness of a powerful third in line for succession utilizing her powers for the good of a nation.

FOR 35 DAYS, Pelosi never waiver as she stood up against an unusual dictator, looking to muscle his way into building a wall under the guise of keeping criminals out of America.

PELOSI AND DEMOCRATS resisted Mr. Trump’s plan and refused to cooperate with any negotiation that sought to leverage a government shutdown for Trump to try to secure the $5.7 billion he wanted for a border wall.

PELOSI’S LEADERSHIP ensured that she remained definite on her position and stuck to it until the very end.

IN THE END PRESIDENT TRUMP surrendered to the Speaker of the House and Senate Minority Leaders Chuck Schumer, ending a standoff that kept American civil servants without paychecks and a means to support their families.

IN CONTRAST, we have a situation in Liberia where both houses of the national legislature appear to be in bed with the executive branch of government. 

THE CRAFTERS OF the constitution went to great length to ensure that the principle of government under which separate branches are empowered to prevent actions by other branches and are induced to share power would be utilized for the good of the nation.

CHECKS AND BALANCES are crucial in constitutional governments and fundamentally important in tripartite governments, such as that of the United States, which separate powers among legislative, executive, and judicial branches.

THE LIBERIAN CONSTITUTION is modeled after the US. The goal, from the crafters of the constitution was to ensure that each branch of government keeps check on the other. 

IN FRANCE, FOR EXAMPLE, under the Fifth Republic in 1958, a nine-member constitutional council appointed for nine years by the President, Senate and National Assembly was tasked with reviewing the constitutionality of legislation. 

IN GERMANY, the Federal Republic combines features of parliamentary systems and of federal systems like that of the United States, vesting the right to declare a law unconstitutional.

INTERESTINGLY, the framers of the U.S. constitution, like those who crafted Liberia’s, saw checks and balances as essential for the security of liberty under the Constitution.

JOHN ADAMS, the second President of the United States once said: “It is by balancing each of these powers against the other two, that the efforts in human nature toward tyranny can alone be checked and restrained, and any degree of freedom preserved in the constitution”.

SADLY, IN Liberia, the notion of cooperation between the Senate and the Lower House is being misinterpreted to mean that the Pro Temp and the Speaker must appear with the President at every function and sing his praises at every opportunity.

THIS IS DANGEROUS FOR Liberia’s fledgling democracy. Speaker Bhofal Chambers and Pro Temp Albert Chie are doing a disservice to Liberia by failing to keep check on the Executive Branch of Government. By allowing the passage of unscrupulous bills and concessions and failing to properly vet those appointed in government, the two branches of government are making it difficult to preserve democracy and hold the executive branch’s feet to the fire. 

IN THE U.S., Speaker Pelosi and Senate Democrats understood their roles well and played it to perfection in the government shutdown saga. This is in no way a disrespect to the presidency but rather understanding that in such matters where the stakes are high and the fate of a nation is dire, there are simply no room for errors and standing firm requires both houses in the national legislature doing all they can to ensure that the will of the people prevail for the good of the country.