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Thursday, May 23, 2024

SUPREME COURT’S VERDICT ON TENURED POSITIONS AWAITED AMIDST CONTROVERSY

Date:

MONROVIA, LIBERIA – The petitioners, the Executive, legal and the opposition Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) are eagerly awaiting the Supreme Court’s verdict on the legality of President Joseph Boakai’s appointments to tenured positions in government institutions.

The Supreme Court is expected to issue an advance opinion on five tenure cases brought before the full Bench on Wednesday, April 24, 2024.

At the heart of the controversy are governmental institutions including the Governance Commission (GC), National Identification Registry (NIR), Liberia Telecommunications Authority (LTA), Liberia Lottery Authority, and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Arguments from both government lawyers and petitioner lawyers were heard by the highest court in the country on March 28, 2024.

The impending opinions have ignited debate among legal experts. Some argue that the prohibitions will hold, supporting those who petitioned the court, while others contend that President Boakai did not act improperly in appointing individuals to these tenure positions.

Reference is made by some to the former LACC chairman Edwin Kla Martin and Liberia Lottery Authority cases. Former Chief Justice Francis S. Korkpor ruled in favor of the Liberia Lottery Authority boss, whereas Cllr. Martin was informed by the Supreme Court that his petition was premature.

Justice Minister Oswald Tweh recently presented arguments at the Supreme Court that seemed to contradict earlier statements by President Boakai’s legal advisor regarding the appointments and removals of tenure position holders. Minister Tweh argued that the petitions were prematurely filed and that the tenure holders are contractors, suggesting disputes should be settled between parties.

Minister Tweh emphasized that holding public office is a privilege, not a right. He added that those nominated by the President, who have not been confirmed by the Senate or commissioned, have not caused any injury to the petitioners.

President Boakai’s Legal Advisor, Cllr. Bushuben Keita, revealed that the cabinet authorized the President to remove all tenured officials, except those protected by the Constitution, and to appoint trusted individuals to these positions.

Keita referenced two precedence cases where the Supreme Court ruled that tenured positions are “contracts,” and officials holding such positions should be compensated for their unexpired terms.

Entities affected by President Boakai’s appointments to tenured positions include the Liberian Telecommunication Authority (LTA), Governance Commission (GC), National Public Health Institute (NPHIL), National Lottery, and National Identification Registry (NIR).

Lawyers representing the petitioners argue that President Boakai’s government has violated the rights of those holding tenure positions. They claim that the acts establishing these institutions were violated by President Boakai and urge that his actions be prohibited.

Chief Justice Sie-A-Nyene G. Yuoh has announced that consolidated rulings will be issued for the four petitions, excluding the Environmental Protection Agency. Credit: Garmah Lomo

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