Grand Kru County Representative Cllr. Jonathan Fonati Koffa says tenure positions created by Acts of the Legislature somehow limit presidential appointing powers in accordance with Article 56 of the 1986 Constitution.
Addressing Legislative reporters Friday, 14 December in Monrovia, Cllr. Koffa who chairs the Judiciary Committee at the House of Representatives claimed that every legal argument happening now under this government is being carried out legally.
His comments appear to lend support to President George Manneh Weah’s quest to scrap tenure positions which the House of Representatives has already accepted by removing tenures from several entities while they review the status of the integrity institutions LACC and PPCC.
Article 56 (a) of the 1986 Constitution gives the president appointing power for all cabinet ministers and their deputies, assistants, ambassadors, ministers and consuls, county superintendents and other government officials.
It includes military and civilian positions and the provision says they shall hold their offices at the pleasure of the president.
Rep. Koffa says democracy is an interdependent struggle between branches of government and in the case of Liberia, it is proceeding well under the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) led – government within its first year.
He argues that President Weah has not used the military to force anything, but is rather proceeding under constitutional powers.
He did not however address the use of police force early this year to dethrone a sitting LEITI boss Mr. Konah Karmo who was forcefully thrown out of office by President Weah’s appointee Mr. Gabriel Nyenkan who had just failed a re-election bid for a Montserrado County District seat.
Under Cllr. Koffa’s supervision as chair of the Judiciary Committee, the House passed the bill submitted by President Weah to remove tenure positions.
According to Mr. Koffa, the action was legal, opposed to public outcry against the removal of tenures especially at integrity institutions that are supposed to have some protection without fear of dismissals for carrying out their mandates.
According to Koffa, presidents are different in view of how they want to use their constitutional powers that are legally given them in Article 56(a).
But he continues that it does not mean another president is under obligation to follow suit.
He recalls that those independent positions were created by former presidents, particularly immediate past President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, [with the approval of the Legislature].
But Koffa insists that those tenures were created by Mrs. Sirleaf perhaps for reason known to her.
According to Koffa, any president could look at them inversely.
He says he hasn’t seen any move by President Weah that is unconstitutional, saying “We are proceeding the way we should under the law.”
Rep. Koffa says no one should criticize President Weah on this legal argument because of disliking the president or his administration.
In continuation of his claims that nothing illegal has been done, Koffa also alleges that the impeachment of Associate Justice Kabineh M. Ja’neh is quite legal.
“The President did not wake up one morning to say he wants to disgrace Kabineh Ja’neh. This bill of impeachment originated from the Legislature through a petition by legislators and it was done as it should be by law,” he continues.
Meanwhile, Koffa says he does not want to be Speaker of the House, in response to concerns of power struggle for the leadership of the House.
“I don’t have a problem with leadership generally. If there is specific issue we can discuss it but I don’t think we have an issue at this point,” he says.
By E. J. Nathaniel Daygbor–Edited by Winston W. Parley