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Independence/Dependence of the National Legislature

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The New Dawn newspaper reported (New Dawn, February 7, 2013) that during the two-day symposium by the Constitutional Review Commission, there was a spirited debate/confrontation of ideas, fundamental in the law-making process, between the Honorable Ambassador, B. Conmany Wisseh, an academic, long-time, committed socio-political advocate/activist and critic, and the Honorable G. Milton Findley, Senator from Grand Bassa County and President Protemp of the Senate, a reported “easy-going, people-oriented” lawmaker.

“Agitated over the long processes being employed” or un-necessary legislative delays, Ambassador Wisseh held that “few persons in both houses (of Legislature) had the command of influence over the rest the Legislators”, a statement which, according to the New Dawn, “did not only reduce the rest of the Legislators to a rubber stamp . . . but (also) attracted participants’ attention when he (Ambassador Wisseh) single out Senator Findley to give attestation”. Thereupon, “the Grand Bassa Senior Senator distanced himself to (from) the Ambassador’s extrapolations and perception of the Legislature”, while he (the Senior Senator) declared that “members of the 53rd Legislature were independent minded personalities . . .”

There is a difference . . .

Independent-minded personalities, individually? Well . . ., being thus an independent-minded person is NOT the same as an individual who is independent in terms of organized, accepted socio-cultural, moral and political belief systems, and policy-dedicated/committed as member of a lawful, independent legislature; a National Legislature that is free from or of – Political influence, manipulation and control; the clutches of Socio-economic influence peddlers and Corruption, Inc. wheeling/dealing behind closed doors, arising from and dedicated to “you chop, I chop business as usual” tradition, etc., etc. – in the diligent, efficient/effective performance of the nation’s law-making.

Regarding the issue of the independence we wrote (“Decentralization”, The Perspective, June 30, 2004) that “the democratic principle of ‘checks and balances’ as provided by the Liberian Constitution . . . degenerated into decision-making by a select few . . . dominated by a powerful, imperial president who became supreme with unquestioned, effective control of the national legislature and judiciary; thus, the constitutional doctrine of ‘equal and separation of the powers of the three branches of government was and had been reduced to an ineffective and meaningless legal maxim. These conditions prompted a Liberian scholar to observe that the highly ‘. . . centralized structure of the Liberian government and related institutional inadequacies . . . weakened local government/governance”.

Moreover, several members of the Liberian, National Legislature are dual citizens, in arrogant, flagrant violation of Article 30 of the Liberian Constitution of 1986 which provides that only “citizens of Liberia . . . are eligible to be members of the Legislature . . .”

While Section 22.1 of the Alien & Nationality Law prescribes that “a person who is citizen of Liberia, whether by birth or naturalization, shall lose his/her citizenship by”:

(a),   “Obtaining naturalization in a foreign state upon his/her own application or upon application of duly authorized agent . . .” and

(b),   “Taking an oath or making an affirmative or other formal declaration of allegiance to a foreign state . . .”

This condition is lawful dependence upon as well as exclusive allegiance and loyalty to a foreign power is a willing, voluntary denial/rejection of loyalty, allegiance and patriotism to the Republic of Liberia. For example, the on-going proposal and debate on Dual Citizenship for Liberia and the first bill, now before the Senate for more than four years, originated upon the support and sponsored by some senior senators of the senate.

In the light of the foregoing legal considerations, the Honorable Senior Senator/President Protemp of the Senate is duty-bound and lawfully-obligated to address the critical issues raised. It is necessary, in this effort, to regain the reportedly-lost confidence of the Liberian people in some members of the Legislature as incompetent, disobedience to law and concerned only with salaries/salary-wage allowances, cars, foreign travels and dual citizenship.

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