President Ellen Johnson - Sirleaf says Liberia’s Attorney General and Minister of Justice Cllr. Frederick D. Cherue has begun the Executive Branch’s intervention into an ongoing impeachment proceedings being worked out by lawmakers against three Supreme Court Justices.
“... His intervention process has already started and so we’re confident that he will bring this to a successful conclusion,” Mrs. Sirleaf told journalists at the Roberts International Airport (RIA) upon arriver from South Africa on Saturday, 12 August.
Associate Justices Kabineh M. Ja’neh, Phillip A.Z. Banks, III, and Jamesetta Howard - Wolokollie are being pursued by some lawmakers with an impeachment proceeding that is being worked out at the House of Representatives following the Supreme Court’s decision in July on the controversial Code of Conduct.
Just before her return from state visit to South Africa, the lawmakers behind the impeachment process last week defied the Supreme Court’s mandate to halt the process and respond to a challenge filed by some lawyers against the impeachment of the justices.
“We’re in a very critical time with elections coming. It’s not the time to start to … start taking measures that will create tension in the society,” Mrs. Sirleaf warns upon her return here and expresses hope that the lawmakers will see the wisdom to look at what they have done and to make sure that they take action that will not plunge Liberia into difficulties.
“I hope that our colleagues in the Legislature will see the wisdom to look at what they have done and to make sure that they take action that will not plunge our country into difficulties,” she says.
The controversial impeachment actions are being worked out by legislators against the three justices following the Supreme Court’s Opinion handed in July that overturned the disbarment of opposition Liberty Party (LP) vice presidential candidate by the National Elections Commission (NEC).
The NEC disbarred Mr. Harrison Karnwea due to his failure to resign a presidential appointee job as Forestry Development Authority (FDA) Managing Director two years prior to the holding of the October elections.
The lawyers challenging the action of the lawmakers are insisting that in line with Article 3 of the 1986 Constitution, gives the Judicial Branch the sovereign constitutional authority of interpretative, reviewable and declaratory powers to declare any inconsistent laws unconstitutional without any restrictions.
Some justices’ dissenting opinions against the Code of Conduct see the resignation requirement under Section 5.2 of the Code of Conduct as being discriminatory and unconstitutional because it was made applicable to only certain presidential appointees.
But the majority justice’s decision in March suggested that the Code of Conduct was legal and binding for all its intent and purpose, confirming the legality of the entire instrument.
Notwithstanding, the fracas between the Judiciary and the Legislature comes after an Opinion in July that cleared Mr. Karnwea to contest in the October elections on grounds that he resigned after the Supreme Court’s ruling in March.
Meanwhile, President Sirleaf says her visit to South Africa went on very well, noting that there were certain cooperation agreements reached with the host country for which both states need to plan to make sure how specific areas are materialized.
Some of the areas contained in the agreement include agriculture, financing of road projects and structures like the True Whig Party (TWP) Building near the new Central Bank of Liberia head office on Ashmum Street.
She says Liberia’s role is to partner with South Africa and others to identify where “we are” into these activities to move them as rapidly as possible.
“We’re not going to be worried about the time. Liberia will be here, the government will end, Liberia will not end. So we will just push hard and do as much as we can, we leave it and then the next person will pick it up and carry on,” she says.
She concludes that the meeting was historic, and the first time a Liberian president had a state visit with South Africa. --By Winston W. Parley