Political Parties in Liberia Want Senate Reject Justice Ja’neh’s Impeachment
Monrovia – The Unity Party-Liberty Party-Alternative National Congress tripartite collaboration has expressed its opposition against the impeachment of Associate Justice Kabineh Ja’neh.
Report by Willie N. Tokpah, [email protected]
Speaking on behalf of the three parties Thursday, September 13, the political leader of the Alternative National Congress (ANC), Mr. Alexander Cummings, called on the Senate, where the Impeachment Bill is now, to reject its passage by not acting on it.
According to Cummings, the impeachment proceedings, which emanated from the House of Representatives, have no constitutional basis and should not be used as grounds for impeachment.
He accused the two main proponents — Representatives Acarous M. Gray and Thomas P. Fallah — behind the push for the Associate Justice’s removal, that it is a ploy by the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) to silence members of the Judiciary; adding: “This should not be embraced. We believe these efforts led by members of the ruling party are wrong.”
“This represents an unbridled attempt to intimidate and silence members of an independent branch of government and thus violates basic principles of separation of powers,” he emphasized.
Additionally, Cummings believes that the House of Representatives’ move to remove Justice Ja’neh, if given credence by the Senate, has the propensity to create political instability and tear the country apart.
Though he recognizes the constitutional provisions on impeachment, the tripartite spokesperson believes the process must be done in a responsible and wise manner that will not depict partisan advantage; adding: “Our constitution sets a standard for impeachment and removing Supreme Court Justices from office.”
He cited Article 71 of the Liberian Constitution as clearly providing the ground for impeachment, which he noted, Ja’neh has not breached.
Article 71 of the Liberian Constitution states: “The Chief Justice and Associates Justices of the Supreme Court and the judges of subordinate courts of record shall hold office during good behavior. They may be removed upon impeachment and conviction by the Legislature based on proved misconduct, gross breach of duty, inability to perform the functions of their office, or conviction in a court of law for treason, bribery or other infamous crimes.”
On the contrary, the collaborating political parties insist that the Impeachment Bill put forth by the House of Representatives does not meet what Article 71 calls for.
Cummings: “Nothing in Article 71 of the Constitution shows that Justice Ja’neh has violated for treason, bribery or other infamous crimes as to warrant his impeachment and removal from office.
“Instead, the Impeachment Bill asserts among other things, that Justice Ja’neh erred by granting a writ of certiorari in favor of a party to a dispute that came before him while he served as the Supreme Court’s Justice in Chambers.”
He argued that Justice Ja’neh should not be held liable by the House for expressing judicial opinion, as expressed in Article 73 of the Liberian Constitution.
More besides, Cummings stressed that other grounds as outlined in the bill, are “hodgepodge of unproven allegations,” and that those amounting to private land dispute between parties should be resolved through the court.
On the basis of this, he stated that the House of Representatives is being biased, favoring one part of the dispute.
According to him, the impeachment procedure is intended to detract public attention from the crucial need for government to tackle development challenges Liberia faces.
“We expect that fresh from winning the recent election, this new administration would focus truly on bringing Liberians together, rallying all of us around a well-thought through development agenda. Instead, we have seen the government do precisely the opposite,” Cummings intoned.
The ANC political leader at the same time described the impeachment proceeding as a move by the government to impose on Liberia a ‘tyranny of the majority,’ on the basis of having majority votes at the Legislature.
He urged the government to focus on creating strategies that will improve the wellbeing of ‘impoverished Liberians’ rather than placing emphasis on the impeachment proceeding.
Meanwhile, Cummings wants the Senate to be cognizant of the fact that those behind the bill, may extend their fight to other branches of government if they are successful in removing Justice Ja’neh.