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Editorial: Free Speech or Scared Tactics, Gongloe

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It is about two weeks now, since President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf announce an administrative leave for her entire cabinet, except the Minister of State for Presidential Affairs and her Chief of Office Staff.  That announcement was also followed by another for the official vehicles of all affected cabinet ministers to be parked.

In sending her entire cabinet on administrative leave, President Sirleaf said she intends to start on a fresh slate going forward, indicating that many of the dismissed ministers could be reappointed. “I want this Administration to be the most effective going forward,” she added.

While some of the cabinet ministers welcomed the decision, describing it as the President’s constitutional right, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Chairman of the National Investment Commission chose to resign for reasons best known to them. The Minister of Labor also chose to go public, descending on his boss, the President describing her decision to send cabinet ministers on a “Compulsory Administrative Leave” as being associated with autocracy, dictatorship and imperial Presidency. He also described the President’s decision as embarrassing.

Gongloe told a recent street corner (Cempid) lecture forum in Monrovia that the President’s action was  not good for the country, noting that Such actions have the appearance of arbitrariness which can only be associated with autocracy, dictatorship and imperial leadership. “I know that there are whispers in government circle about the President’s decision, but I do not know how to whisper about my country. Whispering about the decision of a leader is an indication of fear of the leader,” were the words of Tiawon Gongloe during his expose’.

Gongloe who appeared very offset, recounted how the President’s decision was embarrassing, indicating that they were just fortunate that the president’s pronouncement came at the end of the conference, but that it could have been embarrassing for their delegation attending a human rights conference in Geneva..
But it can  be recalled that announcing her cabinet’s compulsory leave, President Sirleaf said those Ministers who were travelling and on special assignments would have been allowed to complete their missions before being affected by her directive.

While we are cognizant of Tiawon Gongloe’s right to free speech, he must also understand the constitutionality of the President’s decision. If Gongloe was not informed initially about his preferment as Minister of Labour by President Sirleaf, in his own words when he appeared on the Wednesday’s edition of the Truth Breakfast Show on RCI’s radio and TV, why must he think he should be initially informed about another constitutional action by the President?

May we say emphatically here to Minister Gongloe that associating President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf with autocracy, dictatorship and imperial presidency now only because of the compulsory administrative leave is a complete disservice to the people and government of Liberia. Why now, would Gongloe choose to engage in such when he had five years in government as Solicitor general of Liberia and Minister of Labor to do so, if  and only if he had noticed signs of bad governance in the Ellen administration?

In fact, we are of the fervent belief that Minister Tiawon Gongloe’s objective is directed at “scared tactics” for the President so that she could be in an unbalanced state of mind on his fate. And if a decision is taken to have dropped from the team of new ministers, some would regard such action as being against him-only because he took the President to task. That’s the scared tactics he’s employed for the Madam.

And we think that other than making these sad utterances, he should have given the benefit of the doubt to the Head of State. Minister Tiawon Gongloe must not be praised for his action, but told that he was actually out of order.

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