Liberians eagerly await legislative actions
-as lockdown enters 5th day
Liberians are eagerly awaiting what actions lawmakers would take to address issues including lack of access to banking services in remote places, unstable water and electricity supply, among others as President George Manneh Weah on Tuesday submitted to the Legislature a communication justifying the declaration of a state of emergency.
Under the state of emergency which came last week with a lockdown measure starting Saturday, 11 April, most slum dwellers in Montserrado and surroundings continue to take the high risk of crowding wells and other water sources to fetch water due to pipe – borne water supply shortage for several days.
Caution is most likely not exercised among residents who at times become desperate to get water, food and other essential needs for their homes while fighting also not to violate a ban against the movement of people after 3pm.
This week Liberia reported 59 coronavirus cases with six deaths, sending a troubling message to its quarantined population that survives on a poor health system and faces challenges in abiding to physical distancing measures most times due in part to the poor living conditions of most of the people here.
President Weah declared the state of emergency last week in the wake of increasing coronavirus cases here which have led to deaths.Commercial transport services are banned under the lockdown measures, except for vehicles and motorbikes that are issued COVID-19 access pass by authorities here, largely restraining travels on long distances.
A lot of people have complained here that they are unable to get money from banks because their communities are far from banks that they transact business with, and they are also under pressure to close all activities and return to their various communities ahead of 3pm.The state of emergency has in its first few days seen a wave of public outcry against state securities for flogging violators of the ban against movement of people after 3pm, those crowding marketplaces to sell or buy food, and forcing people from their porches to stay indoors.
Some members of the public have suggested the need for lawmakers to make adjustments in the measures announced by the Executive, but others, including officials say the measures are necessary to reduce the spread of the virus.
Upon submission of the official communication by the Executive, the Legislature is mandated to within seventy-two hours, vote in a joint resolution by two-thirds of the membership of each house and decide whether the proclamation of a state of emergency is justified or whether the measures taken are appropriate.
But if the two-thirds vote is not obtained, the Constitution says the emergency automatically shall be revoked.
Where the Legislature shall deem it necessary to revoke the state of emergency or to modify the measures taken, the provision indicates that the president shall act accordingly and immediately carry out the decisions of the Legislature.
The Constitution in Article 86 (b) mandates that a state of emergency may be declared only where there is a threat or outbreak of war or where there is civil unrest affecting the existence, security or well-being of the Republic amounting to a clear and present danger.
Deputy Presidential Press Secretary Smith Toby told a local broadcaster in Monrovia earlier on Tuesday, 14 April that the communication containing the technical details including the “dos” and don’ts” should be at the Legislature “before the end of working day today or early tomorrow.” At the time Toby indicated via phone – in interview that lawmakers who said they had not seen communication from the Executive regarding the state of emergency were right, adding that the president’s office still had a day to send the official communication to the Legislature.By Winston W. Parley