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Liberian Opposition Leader Says Some President Sirleaf Appointments Violate Constitution

By James Butty
07 October 2009

A Liberian opposition leader is accusing President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of violating the country's constitution by some of her appointments and engaging in a patronage system to pave the way for her re-election in 2011.

Charles Brumskine, a former presidential candidate and leader of the opposition Liberty Party, also said President Sirleaf has acquiesced in the fight against corruption.

On the other hand, Brumskine said during a recent visit to Washington that President Sirleaf has done well in some areas of her governance.

"The president has done well in terms of marginal infrastructural improvement; the president has done well in terms of insuring that civil servants are paid on time and even increasing the salaries of civil servants," he said.

But Brumskine said President Sirleaf has performed very poorly in the area of governance.

He said after nearly five years in power, the Sirleaf government has failed to have chieftaincy election throughout the country.

"If you do not elect the, chiefs you say to the people that the whole idea of democracy is simply about the presidency," he said.

Brumskine said President Sirleaf has violated the constitution by failing to send her nominees for local offices for confirmation by the Liberian Senate.

"We need to change the law because presidential appointees under our constitution should not have the right to tax the people. What has President Sirleaf done? Instead of exercising leadership in changing the law to conform with the constitution, she now appoints her friends and members of her party as city mayors," Brumskine said.

He accused President Sirleaf of using the patronage system to pave the way for her re-election in 2011.

Brumskine said his Liberty Party recently warned the president that her actions are in violation of the Liberian constitution.

"Unless she instructs those nominees of hers to desist from carrying out functions of city mayors, our party will have to take some action against her. We're gonna institute the appropriate legal proceedings to prevent them from exercising the functions of the various offices until they are confirmed by the Liberian Senate as required under the Constitution of Liberia," he said.

Acting Information Minister Cletus Sieh said President Sirleaf's appointments are in line with the constitution.

"When the president made an appointment of the city mayor, the Liberty Party headed by Counselor Brumskine led a campaign to discredit what the president had done by going to the Supreme Court. Now let it be established that the Supreme Court ruled that the president has the right, has the power to elect the city mayors," Sieh said.

He rejected Brumskine's accusation that President Sirleaf was practicing a patronage system to pave the way for her re-election in 2011.

"This president has made sure that all oppositions are brought on board. People who were in opposition, people who were associated with other regimes, these people are being brought on board. So to say that there is a patronage system, I think Counselor Brumskine is the only one who understands that because he practices in his own political party," Sieh said.

President Sirleaf this month appointed Benoni Urey as acting Mayor of the City of Careysburg.

Urey, the former chief of Liberia's Bureau of Maritime Affairs under Charles Taylor, is accused of obtaining a vast majority of his wealth through illegal means.

Brumskine said President Sirleaf has abandoned the fight against corruption in Liberia.

But Sieh said President Sirleaf has declared corruption enemy number one and set up the Anti-Corruption Commission.

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