Liberia: Local Pro-Democracy Group Slams President Weah’s Decision to Repeal Tenured Positions
Monrovia – A local pro-democracy organization has termed as “sad news of a sad decision” a recent move by President George Weah to scrap-off tenure positions after initiating a bill and sent to the Legislature.
Open Liberia, in a statement released Tuesday in Monrovia, alleges that the President’s intention is to “alter the autonomy, independence and sanctity of certain positions” in Liberia’s governance system. The group added that this is contrary to international best practices in “open and good governance”.
“The President wants to change the way the Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA), Liberia Maritime Authority (LAM), Central Bank of Liberia (CBL), and the National Social Security and Welfare Corporation (NACSSCORP), Liberia Telecommunications Authority (LTA), Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC), LEITI, amongst others, have been operating to suit his pleasure,” read Esther Kellen, Programs Officer of Open Liberia.
The group, which has been pretty outspoken about several policy issues adopted by the Weah-led government, is also weary about the quietude shown by many lawmakers since the President made the move.
“Despite the sadness of the decision by Mr. Weah, not one of persons we elected as lawmakers has publicly spoken about how the proposal by the president undermines good governance and transparency, particularly so in the absence of an empirical study to prove how ineffective these tenured positions are. This is really sad. This is really an imperial presidency,” the statement added.
Continued the statement: “Granted that our lawmakers and actors in the executive and judiciary branches of government are not seeing the intent and potential ruining result of the proposed law by the president, Open Liberia wishes to categorically state that the proposal is simply meant to create, patronize and perpetuate a celebrated democratic dictator.”
The group stressed that although the President was elected through a democratic process, “his composure in recent times should be a signal that he is indeed a dictator in the making,” claiming that the President is cognizant of what he’s doing, while “people think he’s not aware of what’s he’s doing; the president is very much aware of what’s doing: amassing power to a position that is already too powerful.”
The pro democracy group also warns that the President “wanting to amass power unto himself takes our governance from being a democracy to an autocracy.”
“How soon has the president forgotten that he just signed the Decentralization Act into law? How can he be signing a law that devours power to the people but at the same time proposing another law that devours power from the people unto himself? Isn’t this a contradiction and a true definition of political deception by our leader?”
In the statement, Open Liberia recalled that as a candidate of the most popular political party between 2015 and 2017, President Weah often trumpeted his mantra ‘Power to the People, Yes We can?’, however the group expressed concern that the president may be adopting a despotic attribute.
“How come it’s turned out to be ‘Power to Me, Mr. President?” How can power be to the people when, based on the way you’ve structured our governance, no one can tell the king that he’s naked?”
Open Liberia cannot fathom a Liberia where the president is the judge, the player and the spectator at the same time. Mr. Weah’s decision to terminate these tenure positions has the ability to undermine the functional independence of these institutions to perform – and this is not what we signed up for when we voted, the group said.
At the same time, the Open Liberia has alleged that the decision by the President is “only meant to create temporary distraction from other pressing national issues like the L$16billion scandal” and the construction of his person properties.
It also mentioned that the alleged “ongoing proven malfeasance at the LPRC” is a pressing issue that the President wants to elude, thereby, initiating political moves that would create distractions.