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The Constitution and Moral Institution

What does the larger society think? Is it prudent now or should they wait until reconciliation between them is concretely achieved? Remember, you are a part of this new emerging debate.

The Constitution & Moral Institution- An Emerging New Debate over Liberia’s Presidency

Liberians from all walks of life have become sophisticated and sensitive in the area of politics unlike the 1970s and 1980s or years preceding them. Today, there is no exclusive political class to whom the people supinely look up to for guidance. In every community in Liberia, there exist a great number of intellectual organizations discussing national issues with the accompanied luxury of Itaire drinks.

Along the sidewalks, there are shoes shine boys and those you may call Yanna boys discussing political issues of our time; personalities who make the difference; and those believed to be the doom of the democratic process. In the great debate as to where Liberia heads or what policies are to be adopted are also drivers of both motor vehicles and motor cycles. They are not left out.

This new dimension of politics in Liberia has strongly emphasized women rights groups comprising the literates and illiterates as well as children rights groups and children parliamentary assemblies. These different groups are not limited to street or pocket debates but also captured the air waves and print media. These did not exist during the Tubman’s, Tolbert’s, and Doe’s eras.  Observantly, they sprung up as post war legacies and therefore never ceased to discuss the past as it relates to their present and future. With all these sensitization and sense of belongings to the national institute of free thinking in a free society, no one should doubt the potentials and emerging nationalistic direction of post war Liberia.

Hence, again and again, issues and subjects of rare nature arise and justice is done to them. It is common knowledge that the UP government which emerged after the transitional period inherited a task or responsibility more huge than economic rejuvenation or recovery; reconstruction or image restoration; constitutional governance or application of the rule of law; the waiver of Liberia’s huge debt burdens or development of human resource capacities.

This huge task and herculean responsibility inherited was the reconciliation of all Liberians especially members of the Gio/Mano and Krahn tribes from Nimba and Grand Gedeh Counties. For this purpose, the Accra Peace Comprehensive Agreement called for the establishment of the Truth & Reconciliation Commission which has failed to reconciled victims and perpetrators by not creating the forum for them to meet face to face for rapprochement on the one hand and to cause leaders of the warring tribes to meet to reconcile on the other hand.

Rather than reconciliation, the Verdier’s Commission got interested in the aspect of justice through prosecution and with that zeal, the Commission’s recommendations came into conflict with the constitution and a seeming violation of the fundamental rights of some Liberians which over shadowed other important recommendations. Much as the President of Liberia has tried to institute the process of reconciliation, reconciliation itself between the two tribes in a practical sense is yet a dream. Conflict resolution experts are of the view that irrespective of the fact that both tribes co-exist with each other has not healed the terrible events of the past as both counties continued to live much in the past and still harbor bitterness toward each other.

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Interestingly, the Ivory Coast crisis has awakened ethnic rivalries and the building up of strong solidarity and field support from both tribes (Gio/Mano, Krahn) in Liberia to their counterparts in the Ivory Coast. History has on record that President Gbagbo of the Krahn ehnic group did slaughtered General Robert Guie of the Gio ethnic group in a resistance. Former Speaker George Dweh recently held a press conference revealing much to the effect as well as accusing the Liberian Government of doing nothing in the midst of frightening revelations.

The new emerging concerns and debates over the two counties, Nimba and Grand Gedeh, have extended to the ensuing general and presidential elections. The concerns and questions are whether the republic of Liberia is now ripe for the political leadership of either of the two rivalry counties and whether reconciliation has taken solid root between them that would allowed either of them to be secured and comforted if one has taken over the political leadership of Liberia? Would there be peace, stability, and development or would there be suspicions, conspiracies, persecutions, eliminations and a boiling point of explosion?

While these concerns and debates intensify in various communities and intellectual forms, there is the strong argument of the constitution which prevents no Liberian who meets the requirements from contesting the presidency of Liberia. Any act of deprivement of any of the two counties from fielding a candidate or given the political leadership of the nation would be considered disenfranchisement or violation of their fundamental rights.

But there is also the moral institution which is as powerful as the constitution. This institution says whatever is not covered by the constitution becomes the responsibility of the moral institution. Constitutionalists believe that the constitution, in some articles, also presents the argument from silence. When such is presented, the Supreme Court or the Moral Court interprets in the best interest of the nation.

For example, they argue that the constitution is silent on academic achievement but does it mean that Liberians should elect a dummy who knows nothing about political or democratic leadership? Should Liberians elect a president who would plunge the nation into crisis? Where the constitution remains silent, the fundamental rights of the people to think soberly about their security, safety, happiness, progress, development, peace and unity become the moral institution. In the emerging debate over the two counties, it is neither the issue of constitutionalism nor the invoking of tribal persecution; but an argument of whether it is now timely or whether Liberia’s peace and stability would be secured.

Communities visited by this writer to seek out opinions in a random poll were the Peace Island with predominantly citizens of Nimba County. Results from there show that 15 out of 20 interviewed said it is the constitutional right of both counties to lead the nation now; while 5 interviewees hold the conviction that it would be a time bomb for peace in Liberia. From the Doe Community and Clara Town, 18 out of 20 interviewed said the two counties should not think about the presidency now having being the progenitors of the Liberian civil war which drew in other counties unwilling.        

For the ensuing elections, both Nimba and Grand Gedeh are determined to pull a victory. There is Former Senior Senator James Chelly of Grand Gedeh County and current Senator Prince Yormie Johnson of Nimba County. There is also T. Q. Harris of Nimba County and Dr. Moses Jebo believed also to be of Grand Gedeh County. In many circles, the question is: why do they believe peace, unity, democracy, and fulfillment of the aspirations of Liberians can be achieved by either of them when the crucial demand of reconciliation has not been achieved. This is certainly a new debate in many communities in Liberia.

What does the larger society think? Is it prudent now or should they wait until reconciliation between them is concretely achieved? Remember, you are a part of this new emerging debate.

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