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Editorial: Pres. Sirleaf Should Listen Now

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In less than a week, two strong dissenting voices have been directed at President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf – one from the opposition Congress for Democratic Change, and another from within Madam Sirleaf’s governing Unity Party against her leadership style.

Over the weekend, the CDC raised series of critical concerns about the ongoing reform process of both the Constitution of Liberia and the country’s electoral laws, and cautioned that the exercise may fail unless there are strategic and coordinated implementation framework as well as public participation. In July last year, the party joined over 18 other political parties to launch the Political Consultative Forum (PCF) which focus is on constitutional reform, electoral law reform, and public funding of parties.

But the CDC has noted that given the complexity of constitutional reform, 2014 is too short a time frame to complete the exercise, since these reforms do not merely involve a few amendments, but fundamental and significant changes to the Constitution of Liberia as it is, saying “Such outcomes compel an extensive dialogue and consultation with Liberians to engender public ownership of the constitution reform process.  Article 91 of the Constitution imposes a minimum time requirement of one year for legislative approval of possible constitutional amendments before these are taken to a national referendum.”

It pointed out that holding referendum in 2014 would undermine public ownership of the process, and fail to exhaust the critical issues inherent in the attempt to reform the Liberian Constitution in its post-conflict setting. The party then called on President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf to consult with relevant state actors to lend credibility to, and promote collective ownership of, the process, stressing that if much time is involved then the greater public will debate and make input to the process, and ended with a reminder of the devastating experiences Liberians have had from disputed elections.

Then came Monday this week when the youth congress of the governing Unity Party accused Madam Sirleaf of adapting a non-cooperative posture in the party, calling her a unilateral President, who continues to ignore the doctrine of government-party relationship. Addressing a press conference in Monrovia, the Secretary General of the Montserrado County Youth Congress of the Unity Party Henry Yanquoi, frustratingly said: “This government is no longer a UP-led government; we believe it is an Ellen-led government because she is doing her own thing outside the party platform.”

We believe these are germane concerns raised both from the opposition and from within Madam Sirleaf’s Unity Party which should claim her immediate attention. Leadership by consensus is reconciliatory and more respected than the other way around, and no one perhaps is more abreast of such reality than this sitting President, who herself had suffered the wrath of two dictatorial regimes in last two decades.

It time that President Sirleaf paid heed to these two concerns and many others about her leadership style by taking a deep reflection in order to readjust in her approach on matters that concern the common good.

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