Liberia: Mixed Reactions Ensue over President Weah’s Quest to Cancel Tenured Positions

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Monrovia – President George Weah recently submitted a bill to the Legislature asking for the cancellation of all tenured positions. But this request, has sparked a major debate in the country with some supporting the President’s decision while others are against.

Liberians, including petit traders, students, youth and political pundits are all voicing their own concerns about what impacts they think the President’s request would have on the country.

According to the bill, the National Elections Commission and the General Auditing Commission (GAC) remain the only institutions that will maintain their tenured statuses.

In a conversation with FrontPageAfrica Monday, November 5, in Monrovia, one group noted that the President’s decision is untimely and signals his intention to introduce a dictatorial rule while another side argues that the cancellation of all tenured positions will enable the President to have exclusive control over executive appointees and put them on the par of transparency.

“Those who are appointed to tenured positions sometimes make errors and refuse to listen to the President’s mandate. As a result, you will observe massive corruption and looting of state fund when they are about to leave power,” Bennetta Larmie, a student at the United Methodist University said.

Dickson Messiah Nyanti, a youth activist said: “In recent time, we hailed President Weah’s pronouncement of free education but with the recent proposal for the cancellation of all tenured position, this I think is a sign of dictatorship and it’s untimely.”

“If the President wants to control the three branches of government, it will not be possible. All he needs to do is to work with them. I believe that decision by President Weah is counterproductive to our democratic tendency and integrity institutions like the Liberian Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC) and the National Social Security and Welfare Corporation (NASSCrop), to work at the will and pleasure of President Weah.

We are calling on the Legislature to trash that document. There will be a petition to the Legislature by the student community calling on them not to adhere to that proposal.”

Mohammed Deygbro, Financial Secretary of the University of Liberia campus-based Student Unification Party (SUP) considered the recent bill as irrelevant. He noted, however, that other institutions’ tenured positions, like the National Lottery, can be cancelled.

“We think that bill is not in the interest of Liberians; the decision will create totalitarianism and subject appointees to dance according to the tone of President Weah.

“We agree that some of these institutions like National Lottery must be cancelled, but the President cannot be telling us that all tenured positions should be cancelled. Some of those positions, like the Central Bank as financial-based integrity institutions, should be void of political influences.”

For his part a petit trader, Prince Krangar, stated: “Some of these institutions are funded by donors and cancelling the issue of tenure, will halt these donors’ supports because they will no more work independently, but at the will and pleasure of President Weah. As a result, Liberia will continue to experience an economic down trend.

“Against this backdrop, I want to call on President Weah to immediately recall that bill because it is evil and not in the interest of Liberians.

“You observe in recent time that LEITI was suspended because of government’s refusal to recognize that institution as having a tenured position. We do not have confidence in the Legislature because they are rubberstamp, so we are demanding President Weah to recall that bill.”

Mulbah Jorbor, another Liberian noted: “The President’s intent is not geared at having absolute control over all entities. I believe he is trying to put the right people in place and if people in those positions are not performing correctly, they can be easily changed, instead of waiting for that person’s tenure to expire before doing the right thing.

“In fact, you can have a person who serves in another position, with a different ideology and political believe serving in a new government performing to the expectation of the new government. Some of these people who are still in tenured positions are taking decisions from President Sirleaf and not President Weah because she was the one, who put them in those positions, so the issue of tenured position is unnecessary.”

Martin Kollie, a student and political activist said: “The student and youth community is appalled with the proposal of President Weah seeking the cancellation of all tenured positions. He didn’t say some or few, he said all tenured positions including positions at the National Elections Commission, Central Bank of Liberia, Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission and other independent and autonomous agencies. Why is the President seeking excessive power? Why does the President want to have absolute control of the governance system of our country? So we believe it is unfortunate and a reemergence of dictatorship.

“My fear is, the President will have absolute power and Liberians must get ready to embrace a newborn dictator like Samuel Doe or Charles Taylor. I believe that Liberians must stand up against this bill forwarded by President Weah; we cannot reverse the democratic gains made over the past years as a result of instituting dictatorship, the President must immediately recall his Bill. If he doesn’t, we will lead a massive civil action in demand of full reversal of his seeking the cancellation of all tenured positions.”

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