Liberia: Senate Pro-Tempore Calls for Due Process Before Denial of Democratic Rights￼
MONROVIA – The President Pro-Tempore of The Liberian Senate, Senator Albert Chie, has expressed strong opposition to interfering with Liberia’s democratic space and has called for the protection of the Constitution against all enemies – foreign and domestic.
Report by Lennart Dodoo, [email protected]
The Pro-Tempore made the statement at the close of the Fifth Session of the 54th Legislature. He said, “If I may borrow the words of outgoing US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, this Senate is under obligation to “defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic”; We have to protect the democratic space from interference. The right of the people to choose their leaders and for their leaders to serve in line with our constitution, our domestic laws and only international laws we have signed and ratified is undebatable and should always be guaranteed”.
Sen. Chie was careful not to make any particular reference but his assertions come amid debate in the public sphere that former officials sanctioned by the United States should not be allowed to contest the ensuing 2023 elections, neither should they be allowed hold appointed positions.
In the midst of these arguments, Sen. Chie cited Article 20(a) of the Constitution which demands that no one be punished without first being convicted beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law or by a comparable tribunal.
He said, anyone made to resign their position, thereby losing their livelihood and self-esteem because of an allegation that has not been proven through Due Process, is being mistreated, which is prohibited under our organic law.
Sen. Chie: “The elements of Due Process, as indicated in the Supreme Court Opinion in Wolo Vs Wolo, Re: (5LLR423)(1937), holds that Due Process is a law which hears before it condemns, and renders judgment only after trial, gives an opportunity to appear and produce evidence and to be heard in person or by counsel or both; that it is unconstitutional to deprive any person of his/her property or other rights, without notice, an opportunity to appear and cross-examine witnesses adduced against him/her, to produce witnesses in his/her behalf, and to be heard in person, or by counsel or both; that it is also unconstitutional to deprive any official of office, or a person of their income, livelihood, security of employment, property or other rights, without due process of law.”
Sen. Chie further argued that Liberians have a right protected by the Constitution to associate with whomever they decide, except where there is a threat to national security and public safety.
“And neither our former colleagues nor us have made laws that bar any Liberian from participating in a political or another civil process without first being tried and found guilty by utilizing the constitutional principle of Due Process,” he said.
More Budgetary Support to LEC
Meanwhile, the Senate Pro-Tempore has disclosed that the Senate will provide more allocation to the energy sector through the National Budget to support the government’s quest to provide stable electricity.
He congratulated the government for signing the power purchase agreement with Ivory Coast the TRANSCO CLSG. He said, the additional budgetary allotment to be made in the 2023 National Budget is to enable the Liberian government pay some of its arrears with the Ivorian government.
Sen. Chie, however, said it is prudent for Liberia to take ownership through yearly budgetary appropriations and invest in the hydropower potential offered by the St. Paul River, the Via Confluence and other water bodies in some parts of the country that can be developed for domestic consumption and export through the CLSG line. He said, the Senate will be willing to commit to such an endeavor.
The Senate Pro-Tempore lamented that the Lofa Road and the two principal road corridors to the Southeast remain impassable during the rainy season. He acknowledged President Weah’s meeting with the Government of Qatar recently, which resulted in the commitment of the latter to provide additional funding for the Lofa Road.
He also acknowledged the Government’s efforts to fund the paving of the road segment between Ganta and Sacleapea and the commitment of donor partners to provide funding for the pavement of the roads from Saclepea through Grand Gedeh to Rivergee and from Barclayville in Grand Kru to Sinoe County.
“We urge the Ministry of Public Works to speed up the procurement processes so that actual construction work on these road segments can begin in earnest,” he said.