Our President, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, in her brief Tuesday evening broadcast to the nation, claimed that Liberia’s democracy and reputation are “under assault.”She also called on Liberians to “continue to respect each other, the rule of law, human kindness and decency.”The one thing we pray for is that she is not accusing Liberty Party standard bearer Counselor Charles Brumskine and other political parties and many citizens supporting them—that she is not accusing them of placing Liberia’s democracy under assault. That would be a travesty (mockery, pretense).Let us quickly recall what has led Counselor Brumskine and his supporters to court. It had nothing to do with Brumskine coming third in the October 10 presidential race. Remember, he came third in the 2005 election, and did not go to court. His case has everything to do with the alleged massive irregularities that took place in the recent October 10 election.First, the ballot stuffing in several places around the country, including District 4 in Nimba County, which led to a rerun of the Representative election. In Nimba’s District 8, there was a recount, and the incumbent Representative who lost in the first counting, won in the second. This was a glaring case of fraud on the part of the NEC staffers who conducted the election.Second, the delay in the starting of the poll on Election Day which, according to Liberty Party, led to the denial of over a half million eligible voters to participate in the election. This was clearly a contravention of the Liberian Constitution, and the denial of those citizens’ constitutional rights.Third, a man named Amos Siebo, who works in President Sirleaf’s office, was caught carrying out voters registration in his private home, a most serious contravention of the country’s Election Laws. Siebo was never prosecuted, and is back on the job in the President’s office. Where, we ask, is the “decency” in that? Did the President know about this outrageous and criminal incident? Just in case she did, what did she do about it in the interest of “decency” and “law-abiding”?That is why we have chosen for the theme of this Editorial, “The Singer, not the Song.”Fourth, all centers at the polling precincts were each supposed to have had 550 voters. But instead, there were in at least one center in Grand Gedeh County 1,500 voters in favor of the presidential candidate George Weah’s Coalition (CDC) for Democratic Change.Remember the overwhelming number excess ballots brought in by NEC Chairman Korkoyah—a development that was seriously questioned by many, including this newspaper, Daily Observer.Fifth, where was the decency, or more fundamentally, the ethics in the President’s holding a private meeting in her private home with NEC Magistrates and Commissioners? Or do we have a President who thinks she can do whatever she pleases, regardless of public opinion or the consideration of decency and propriety (modesty, respectability)?Where was the decency or propriety in appointing a non-Liberian citizen to head the National Elections Commission?Remember, what is most important in human affairs, whether political or otherwise, is “the singer, not the song.”We come now to one of the most touching parts of the President’s Tuesday broadcast, “…We must continue to respect each other, the rule of law, human kindness and decency.”Here, two poignant questions arise. First, did her private meeting with Election Magistrates and Commissioners not look like an “abuse of power”? Otherwise, why was the press not invited?Finally, President Sirleaf’s call in her Tuesday broadcast for “human kindness and decency.” We quickly recall her treatment—or mistreatment—of not only her two-term humble, patient and loyally supportive Vice President Joseph N. Boakai; but also of the Unity Party (UP) that not only rescued her in 1997 when her own party, Liberia Action Party (LAP) rejected her presidential bid. Now what did UP do for Ellen? It fulfilled her presidential dream and carried her twice successfully to the presidency!So how does she now, in the 2017 election, forget all that and ABANDON UP and its presidential candidate and her own Vice President, Joseph N. Boakai? Where, in this heartrending act of crass ingratitude, is “human kindness and decency”?All of this points to the fact that President Sirleaf has more a part to play than anyone else in the “assault” on Liberia’s democracy.The singer, not the song.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)
Judicial posts– dangerous to perception of due process, administration of justiceAmid moves to make substantive appointments to the most important positions in the Judiciary, the Guyana Bar Association is calling for a timely end to protracted acting positions. This comes after President David Granger’s announcement that a nominee has been found to take over one of these posts.Acting Chancellor of the Judiciary, Yonnet Cummings Edwards, with acting Chief Justice, Roxane GeorgeAccording to Vice President of the Bar Association, Teni Housty, acting appointments can affect the perception of the Judiciary’s fairness when making decisions. And while Housty noted that good decisions have so far been made by the appointees, such appointments are generally discouraged.“In the context of the Judiciary, acting appointments are always discouraged. (Only) recently Sir Dennis Byron spoke out against (it). Certainly in judicial appointments, it (would) be the better option to the administration of justice, particularly to the perception.”“It is about time and it should be resolved. For too long, they called it the academy awards for the media profession. I think it’s about time the acting stops, not only for Guyana but the whole perception of the Judiciary. The administration of justice would be improved.”Granger, who had made the announcement of the nominee during a press conference, had revealed the jurist to be resident in the Caribbean. On the matter of an overseas jurist being chosen as opposed to a local one, Housty referenced the fact that Guyanese have flitted in between countries and have distinguished themselves overseas in the field of law.“The beauty about the practise of law in a commonwealth legislature is that officers can come from any part of the world and we have Guyanese jurists who have distinguished themselves regionally and internationally.”At his press conference, Granger had revealed that the person chosen for either of the top judicial posts is currently in Guyana. According to the Constitution, however, the President must hold consultations with Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo.It remains to be seen whether approval will be given, with Granger stating that he was prepared to meet with Jagdeo. But while there have been criticisms that the President is too close to the process when the Judicial Service Commission ought to take the lead, Housty noted that the nominee was derived out of a process.“The Constitution makes provisions for the manner in which the decision was made. There was also a recommendation from a committee that had been convened. For some time now, they’ve had many acting Chancellors. The only Chancellor who was confirmed was Chancellor Bernard.”“So whatever modality is adopted, it’s the Leader of the Opposition who (must approve). Applications were invited. So it’s the result of a process.”Just recently, President of the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ), Sir Dennis Byron zeroed in on the trend of persons being appointed to top positions in Guyana’s Judiciary but being forced to act for years while their confirmation remains in limbo.In a recent address to the Guyana Bar Association, he condemned the fact that since former Chancellor Desiree Bernard demitted office; an agreement has not been reached for the substantive appointment of a Chancellor.“This has brought us to the situation today where the number one and number two officials of the Guyana Judiciary have not been substantively appointed. This is a most unfortunate state of affairs,” the legal luminaire stated.“This situation has moved well beyond what ought to be acceptable in a modern democracy where respect for the rule of law is maintained. The Constitution envisages the Judiciary of Guyana to be headed by officials who are substantively appointed and enjoy all the legal and institutional mechanisms to secure their tenure,” he continued.Byron bluntly stated that the delay is a breach of the spirit and intent of the Constitution.Acting Chancellor of the Judiciary, Yonnet Cummings Edwards, was appointed by President David Granger in May of this year. Prior to that, she acted as the Chief Justice from December 2015. She was never confirmed to the substantive position.Edwards replaced Justice Carl Singh, who retired after acting as Chancellor since 2005. On the other hand, the current Acting Chief Justice, Roxane George, was also appointed to her position on the same day as Edwards.