The political leader for the opposition Movement for Progressive Change (MPC) businessman-turned politician Simeon Freeman, threatens to take the 54th Liberia Legislature to court, if it failed to re-convene within 7 to10 days to withdraw the recent Joint Resolution, endorsing the State of Emergency in order to make amendments.
According to him, prior to President Weah’s request to the legislature, the Ministry of Health should had issued a proclamation, detailing allthose things they had indicated, which had already passed, including the 21 days closure of schools, churches and mosques and lockdown of Montserrado and Margibicounities, among others.
Addressing a news conference on Friday in Monrovia, he argues further that such proclamation should have been attached to the President’s quest before calling the legislature for joint resolution.
Mr. Freeman says by now churches should have reopened because the Ministry of Health’s 21 days have been exhausted, observing that the President’s State of Emergency address didn’t mention that churches should remain closed, and that the Joint Resolution by the legislature didn’t mention it either.
According to him, the Constitution of Liberia forbids suspension of rights, explaining that if rights are to be suspended, reasons should be provided, likewise timeframe or duration.
However, he acknowledges that rights may be suspended during a State of Emergency, but if the legislature passes a document and doesn’t indicate the kinds of rights that should be suspended, that means the State of Emergency is not enforced.
The MPC leader continues that President Weah said that under the 14days lockdown, people are allowed to go out but should be indoor by 3:00PM but didn’t say churches shouldn’t open.
According to him, the legislature made an error so they should withdraw the Joint Resolution and re-convene to properly state the right provisions, warning that if these things are not done within 7 to 10 days, he would go to the Supreme Court to pray for revocation of the resolution.
Turning to other issues, Freeman, a former presidential candidate,notes the US$25 million stimulus package the government wants to use to distribute food to citizens, should instead, go towards procuring PPEs and other essential health materials for hospitals in the country, because nurses and doctors are being exposed to the Coronavirus pandemic.
He says it will be difficult for the government to distribute food just within Montserrado before talking of covering the whole country, which he notes, could take up to six months, as the authorities would have to numerate houses in Montserrado and other procedures before the actual distribution.
Instead of food distribution, he says the US$25 million should be spent on acquiring more testing kits and creating more testing centers in the counties.
On the question of payment of loans for market women,he such exercise lacks specificity as to actual beneficiaries, explain, “After this state of emergency, the government will come up and say they spent a whole lot on loans and they will credit so many fake businesses that they paid loan for like they did in the US$25 million mop up exercise that they created Susu clubs around here that they said benefitted from the money.”
The businessman-turned politician has been out of the public since this year though he remains a strong critic of ruling establishments both in the past and even now. Editing by Jonathan Browne