ONE OF THE HARDEST truths to come out of Liberia’s national legislature in recent days came Tuesday when Senator Gbleh-Bo Brown(Independent, Maryland County) declared that Liberia’s current governance problem is the lack of independence in both the Legislative and Judiciary branches of government.
SPEAKING TUESDAY AT A forum on ‘Good Governance’, the Maryland County lawmaker stressed that because the current Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rep. Bhofal Chambers, and the Pro-tempore of the Senate, Sen. Albert Chie, are staunch members of the ruling establishment, it limits their ability to exercise oversight.
SENATOR BROWN stated that Liberians have learned bitter lessons for many years as a result of bad governance and that these lessons should not only serve as deterrence to bad governance but should give Liberians many reasons why they need to promote and implement needed reforms in the way and manner in which leaders govern.
THE SENATOR’S comments clearly validate what many Liberians and international partners have been preaching for more than a decade now since the emergency of Liberia’s post-war democracy.
TODAY, SCORES of Liberians who have sought legislative seats as Independent candidates or members of a party outside the ruling party have started a new trend of joining the ruling party just to be closed to the seat of power.
IN RECENT MONTHS, Pro Temp Albert Chie, Rep. J. Fonati Kofa(Grand Kru) and others have crossed carpets to the ruling party. Now, both the Speaker, the Pro Temp and the Presidency are from the same political party and from the same region of Liberia.
THIS IS BAD for any democracy, much less, one emerging from war.
THIS IS PARTLY the reason why Liberia is struggling to maintain the peace after a civil war. The country is more divided than it has ever been because various sections of the country are feeling neglected and abandoned by the leadership dominated by the southeast.
THE LEGISLATURE is charged with the responsibility of exercising oversight but is now headed by individuals, who are members of the ruling party, which is only loyal to the Executive.
THE SYSTEM OF CHECKS and balances s an important part of the Constitution. With checks and balances, each of the three branches of government can limit the powers of the others. This way, no one branch becomes too powerful.
SADLY, THAT has not been the case in Liberia for quite some time.
THE CURRENT ORDER of governance in Liberia defies everything the forefathers sought to avoid. The idea was to give three branches the authority to provide checks on the other, so that no one branch could become too powerful. As a Member of Congress, I know the Legislative Branch cannot be passive in the face of an executive who is seeking to use executive orders to accomplish administratively what he cannot legislatively.
WHEN THE PRO TEMP, THE SPEAKER AND THE PRESIDENT are on the same stage, dancing and singing, it sends a bad message to the rest of the country. It signals the decline and death of governance and independence in a nation that needs it more than every; It signals that Liberia has lost its sense of grasping the core principles of a modern democracy and puts the country’s future at risk.
WE AGREE WITH SENATOR Brown that the establishment of the Governance Commission to constantly review and make recommendations for the promotion of good governance was an opportunity for Liberia to bolster its emerging democracy.
SENATOR BROWN, WHO is also chair of the Senate Committee on Good Governance, stressed the need to strengthen integrity institutions established in post-conflict Liberia in support of the practice of good governance. “The free press is one of the major prospects in our governance system. We must continue to encourage free speech and freedom of the press.”
IT IS NO SECRET that since President Weah took office last January, a number of major lapses have raised questions about the state of governance in Liberia today.
IT IS CLEAR THAT the Weah-led government is failing to practice good governance and ignoring everything Liberia’s forefathers envisioned.
IT WAS CLEAR FROM THE BEGINNING of the administration when the administration turned a blind eye to red flags raised by the media and critics regarding the now-controversial Eton and Ebomaf, the bloated payroll brought on by the hiring of too many partisans of the ruling party and the total disregard for the rules and guidelines of the Liberia Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative(LEITI).
BY FORCING AN appointment to LEITI, against stakeholders’ advice, President Weah signaled a desire to do things on his own terms, regardless of the rule of law. Today, the International Monetary Fund has been called in to help fix a messy economy that would take years to recover.
HAD THIS GOVERNMENT listened and had Liberia had an independent legislative and judiciary branches of government to ask the right questions and raise the red flags, perhaps things would have been better today and the government would not be presiding over an economy that is in a free fall.
Representative Larry Yanquoi(District No. 8, Nimba County) said it best at the forum this week: “The economic suffocation we face today could have been averted if immediately after the 12 years of Unity Party regime where all was still fresh, we had listened to each other. Issues come on the floor you raise your hands once you are singled out for not singing to the tone of the leadership, they block you from speaking. We saw one big practice of good governance when Liberians gathered on the Capitol Hill to express their grievances. If you see the leadership of the Legislature mounting the podium with the President at a political rally then you know where we are heading.”
PRESIDENT WEAH and the CDC-led government owes it to Liberia to change the dynamics of what is unfolding in Liberia today. The Pro Temp and the Speaker of the House owe it to Liberia to see to it that the screws of bad governance are reconfigured and tightened. This is the only we can turn the tide and end the betrayal of the forefathers whose best intentions are now being thrown to wolves in sheep’s clothing.