Justice minister issues stern warning to COP
MONROVIA, De 3-The Minister of Justice, Frank Musa Dean has warned organizers of the “Weah Step down campaign” of the consequences of such protest saying it undermines the constitution of Liberia and was a treasonable act.
The statement was contained in a letter to the Acting Chairman of the Council of Patriots (COP), Mo Ali on Monday December 2, 2019. Ali is the Secretary General of the former ruling party (Unity Party) of madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.
The letter states among others that the holding of such demonstration was unconstitutional.
“Your mobilization of individuals, and resources to execute your “Weah Step Down” campaign is unconstitutional and bespeaks treason, an offense against the internal security of the state,” it said.
The COP is mainly comprised of former opposition leaders and some civil society group members as well as ordinary citizens who are against the leadership style of president Weah. The COP had written the Ministry of Justice seeking for permit to carry out protest in line with the constitution of Liberia.
The group, COP leadership and members are organizers of the pending December 30, 2019, nationwide protest have launched the “Weah Step Down” campaign, calling for President Weah to step down as the country experiences extreme economic hardship since he took office nearly two years ago. Representative Yekeh Kolubah of the opposition Alternative National Congress(ANC) said recently that he would embark on a nationwide mobilization and recruitment campaign for the protest.
The ministry of Justice said it received the letter from the COP requesting them for permit. “Your letter of November 11, 2019, relative to your request for security protection to hold a “Peaceful Assembly” in Monrovia beginning December 30, 2019, is acknowledged.”
According the COP, president Weah lacks leadership ability and his government is embroiled into corruption and disregard for the rule of law.
But the minister’s letter said taking such role was not in the spirit of democracy and president Weah was elected by the people.
“You will note that Weah was duly elected by the Liberian people for a six-year term, and therefore, any removal prior to the expiry of this term may occur only by impeachment as provided under Article 62 of the Constitution,” the Minister wrote the COP.
According to Article 62 of the Liberian constitution: “The President and the Vice-President may be removed from office by impeachment for treason, bribery and other felonies, violation of the Constitution or gross misconduct.”
But the COP Acting Chairman said they are also carrying out their constitutional responsibilities.
Article one of the Liberian Constitution states that, “All power is inherent in the people. All free governments are instituted by their authority, and for their benefit and they have the right to alter and reform the same when their safety and happiness so require. In order to ensure democratic government, which responds to the wishes of the governed, the people shall have the right at such period, and in such manner as provided for under this Constitution to cause their public servants to leave office and to fill vacancies by regular elections and appointments.”
“We are further aware that in preparation to execute your planned objectives, you have solicited and received funding from individuals, both within and outside of Liberia, some of whom may not be Liberian citizens,” the letter from the minister said. “We hasten to assure you that the Weah administration remains committed to the protection of the rights and liberties of all citizens as enshrined in the Constitution.”
The COP letter said the peaceful assembly is being organized and scheduled to begin on Monday, 30 December and would potentially last for several days in Monrovia.“During this peaceful assembly, we intend to gather as many as 100,000 persons and we will be gathering at the Seat of Government, Capitol Hill. Those participating in the assembly will begin gathering at 6:00 am GMT and they will come from various parts of the country.”
His letter further states that the “facts and circumstances described above, we are without legal authority to grant you permit, protection or approval to undertake an act which is, indisputably, a clear violation of the Constitution and statutory laws of Liberia.”
The minister provided further justification for denying the COP permit by stating points four and five of Article 76 of the Constitution, that states: (4) attempting by overt act to overthrow the Government, rebellion against the republic, insurrection and mutiny; and (5) abrogating or attempting to abrogate, subverting or attempting or conspiring to subvert the Constitution by use of force or show of force or by any other means, which attempts to undermine the Constitution.”
“Ultimately, may we warn that any individuals comprising the leadership of the COP will be held personally, individually and collectively culpable and liable, under the laws for the consequences associated with their actions,” the minister warned. TNR