MONROVIA-The recent decision by Team Gongloe, a body which wants the president of the Liberia National Bar Association –(LNBA) , Cllr. Taiwon S. Gongloe to contest for the upcoming presidential election in 2023, has led to different lawyers speaking differently with some calling for his resignation, while others have debunked their friends statement as baseless.
Last Week, Team Gongloe launched what they said was a movement aimed at ushering in a new political dimension in the legal process. Headed by Cllr. Jimmy Bombo, Team Gongloe, he said, when their candidate is president for Liberia, the rule of law, which he said is the foundation of every strong democracy, will be respected and upheld to the latter.
But Cllr. Arthur Johnson, a respected lawyer thinks the opposite and wants the man who represents them to resign if he wants to contest for the presidency.
Speaking to Judicial Reporters Wednesday, August 4, 2021, in Monrovia, Cllr. Johnson said, the action by some legal minds to have petitioned Cllr. Gongloe to run for the presidency undermines the Bar’s call for the establishment of a war and economic crimes court.
Johnson did not say specifically say how it undermines, but said, looking at LNBA’s recent posture and comments, one might think the Bar has inner motive, hence reason for its support to the establishment of the crimes court.
As a lawyer who backs his statements normally by legal facts, Johnson did not quote any part of the Bar’s constitution which forbids his president or any member from contesting for the position of president for the Republic of Liberia.
He however agrees that the Constitution of Liberia gives citizens above 25 years of age the right to contest for any public office.
Johnson says while he supports Gongloe’s quest to contest the country’s presidency, he must resign his position as president of the Bar in order to save the image of the association.
His statement was strongly supported by Atty. Vanson Chie. “His recent petition was not timely.” Atty. Chie believes that More to that, his quest for the presidency would damage the Bar’s chance of establishing the war and economic crimes court in the country. He did elaborate further.
Both Cllr. Johnson and Atty Chie believe that the Bar plays an important role in the society; as such, for a lawyer like Gongloe to be petitioned, speaks volume.
The Liberian Lawyer believes Cllr. Gongloe holding on to the presidency of the Bar while he has been petitioned for political office, would undermine the LNBA’s role in society.
Cllr. Johnson said it would have been prudent if their president had stepped down in November this year at which time the Bar would usher in new president, there wouldn’t be an issue.
But Cllr. Johnson’s statement was downplayed by Cllr. Henry Barcon.
According to him, there is no law that requires Gongloe to relinquish power due to his interest to contest for the country’s presidency.
That, Gongloe was only petitioned and is yet to accept the petition or reject and as such, there is no need to resign.
Even if he accepts, he continued, there is no law which forbids him.
“This is so, because the Liberian Constitution gives every citizen the right to participate in political activities.