Despite an initial posture of grandstanding against the Executive last week thru a summon though illegal, inviting President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf for contempt, members of the House of Representatives have somersaulted on their earlier decision, and instead agreed to have a closed door meeting with the Liberian leader today, Monday, July 6 at the Capitol.
Last Tuesday, the House in an angry mood voted overwhelmingly that the President’s decision to direct the Minister of Education George Werner to announce closure of schools across the country by July 31 demonstrates gross disrespect to them as direct representatives of the Liberian people.
Accordingly, they invited President Sirleaf to have appeared before that august body last Friday and state why she should not be held in constitutional contempt.
But Madam Sirleaf had constitutional defended her action through a written communication to members of the House, arguing, I bring to your attention Chapter 1 of the Liberian Constitution on the structure of the state and refer in particular to article 3, which provides that the form of the government is republican with three separate coordinate branches: the legislative, the executive and the judiciary.
The communication added that consistent with the principles of separation of powers and checks and balances, no person holding office in one of these branches shall exercise any of the powers assigned to either of the other two branches excepts as provided.
She reminded the lawmakers that the constitution further provides in unequivocal terms in chapter VI (the executive) article 50 that the Executive Power of the Republic shall be vested in the President, who shall be head of state, head of government and Commander-In-Chief of the Armed Forces of Liberia.
“I took a solemn oath in compliance with article 53 to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the Republic, and am mindful of article 56, which subjects ministers and other officials of government to the authority of the President; I have, therefore, instructed the Minister of Education to ignore what appears to be instructions conveyed to him under cover of letter dated June 23, 2015 by the clerk of the House of Representatives”, the President’s latter read.