Rivergee County Senator Conmany Wesseh, says ongoing impeachment proceedings by members of the House of Representatives against three Associate Justices of the Supreme Court bench poses serious national threat, and could stall peaceful transition of power in Liberia.
Speaking to the New Dawn on Friday, 11 August 11in his office at the Capitol Building in Monrovia, Senator Wesseh stresses that the most relevant thing that Liberians should pursue is sustaining the peace and holding of elections for smooth transition of national powers to duly elected Liberians. He notes that the ongoing impeachment proceedings have a propensity to derail the peace that every Liberian cherishes right now.
He calls for restraint on all sides, noting that he believes every Liberian, especially, state actors need to ensure that the concept of respecting the Constitution of Liberia adhere to. Impeachment proceedings are being worked out at the House of Representatives following protest by Senators Dan Marais, Peter Coleman, James Tornola, Numene Bartekwa, and Rep. George Mulbah against a Supreme Court’s recent decision on the controversial Code of Conduct.
After ruling in March this year that the Code of Conduct is legal and binding for all intent and purpose, the Supreme Court however, ruled in July and overturned the disbarment of opposition Liberty Party vice presidential candidate, Harrison Karnwea from the October elections by the National Elections Commission or NEC. According to the Senator, any attempt to temper with anything contrary to the constitutional provision means the country’s 10 years of peace and stability is under threat, reminding that critical to everything that is currently happening in the country is peace and stability Sen. Wesseh, who represents the ruling Unity Party, explains that the existence and full participation of the three branches of government shall be fully observed on grounds that the crafters of the constitution made a wise decision to have the House of Representatives and the Liberian Senate to constitute the Liberian Legislature, the executive and the judiciary making the governing process interesting and balance.
“In principle, the responsibility of the legislature is making laws, the executive to execute the laws, and the judiciary make the interpretation of the law and if Liberians especially government actors will keep that in their mind, then there won’t be problem or nobody in branch of government should punish another branch for discharging their function as enshrined in the 1986 Liberian Constitution,” he argues.
“If these functionaries are respected by all, then the maintenance of peace will be the hallmark of the day, especially as Liberians gear up for the elections.” Sen. Wesseh continues that the biggest fear the country faces is failure of national actors to respect the constitution, arguing that the Supreme Court should not be liable for its statutory role or any opinion expressed.
“Is just common sense, if the ruling of the Supreme Court opinion is to be subjected to questioning or punishment by another branch, the constitution won’t have said the high court is the final decision making body of justice in the land. Anyone that wants to take any action that would threaten the peace and security, that individual should stop it or else, the peace and security of the state would be undermines,” he concludes.
The Supreme Court last week placed prohibition on impeachment proceedings at the lower House, but the protesting lawmakers decline, citing Articles 3, 43 and 71, respectively of the 1986 Constitution of Liberia as their reliance.
Article 43 states, “The power to prepare a bill of impeachment is vested solely in the House of Representatives, and the power to try all impeachments is vested solely in the Senate. When the President, Vice President or an Associate Justice is to be tried, the Chief Justice shall preside; when the Chief Justice or a judge of a subordinate court of record is to be tried, the President of the Senate shall preside. No person shall be impeached but by the concurrence of two-thirds of the total membership of the Senate. Judgments in such cases shall not extend beyond removal from office and disqualification to hold public office in the Republic; but the party may be tried at law for the same offense. The Legislature shall prescribe the procedure for impeachment proceedings, which shall be in conformity with the requirements of due process of law.”
Additionally, Article 71 points out: “The Chief Justice and Associate 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.”
But Article 73 says: “No judicial official shall be summoned, arrested, detained, prosecuted or tried civilly or criminally by or at the instances of any person or authority on account of judicial opinions rendered or expressed, judicial statements made and judicial acts done in the course of a trial in open court or in chambers, except for treason or other felonies, misdemeanor or breach of the peace. Statements made and acts done by such officials in the course of a judicial proceeding shall be privileged, and, subject to the above qualification, no such statements made or acts done shall be admissible into evidence against them at any trial or proceeding.”
By E. J. Nathaniel Daygbor-Editing by Jonathan Browne