Controversy Over Executive Order 65…As Supreme Court Issues Stay Order

There is controversy over the recent Executive Order 65 issued by President Sirleaf, banning mass movement of people, rallies and demonstrations during this pending special senatorial election.   Days following the issuance of the order, fourteen lawmakers of Montserrado County rejected the Executive Order 65 issued by President Sirleaf, relative to the mass assembly of people during the special senatorial elections.

Meanwhile, candidate Robert Sirleaf, son of the President, who termed the order as “discriminatory, punitive and wrong” has filed a writ of prohibition with the Supreme Court which; has issued a “stay order” on the enforcement of the executive order. It was also gathered that Mont. Rep. Edwin Snowe and others also filed seminar writ against the Executive Order.

The lawmakers, in a statement read by Rep. Henry Fahnbulleh said the order contravenes provisions of the Liberian Constitution which guarantee democratically cherished inalienable rights and therefore, “categorically reject any semblance of the return to junta rule and despotism.”

Therefore, they have emphatically denounced and condemned the Order describing it as draconian.

The lawmakers have called on the President “to immediately rescind and retract such a tyrannical order which has the proclivity to thwart our nascent democracy. There shall be no reversal of the democratic gains we have made through the blood and sweat of our fellow compatriots.”

They went on:”We want to assure you, our fellow citizens that we will do everything within the ambiance of the law to protect the Constitution of which we are under oath to uphold.”

The lawmakers said, “It is quite suspicious that Executive Order No. 65 deliberately and with sinister motives chose to antagonize only Montserrado County where the son of the President is contesting and flagrantly violating the mandate of the Supreme Court and the National Elections Commission with impunity.”

Accordingly, they have called on all of our International Partners who have been very supportive of our democracy to take due cognizance of the creeping threat to our fledgling democratic governance.

Last Friday, it was reported that President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf issued Executive Order No. 65 ordering all concerted mass movements of people on the streets of Monrovia during the ensuing special elections, including in particular rallies, demonstrations and parades prohibited and for 30 days after the announcement of election results.

According to an Executive Mansion release, Executive Order No. 65, signed by the Liberian leader on December 3, 2014, is intended to strengthen the efforts of the Government of Liberia to contain the spread of Ebola, protect the security of the State, maintain law and order, and promote peace and stability in the country.

Executive Order No. 65 notes that the existing law requiring persons desiring to march or demonstrate to obtain prior permits from the Ministry of Justice have proven ineffective to address rallies, parades and concerted mass movements on the streets of Monrovia and its environs.

It further states that the Government has noted with concern the increasing number of incidents of concerted mass movements of people on the streets of Monrovia and its environs, including in particular rallies, demonstrations, and parades, which have led to persistent and frequent violations of the Vehicle and Traffic Laws of Liberia, obstruction of the free flow of traffic and the movement of peaceful citizens, the disruption of economic activities, and concomitant panic in the city with total disregard of the consequences thereof.

Executive Order No. 65 states that to allow the said conduct to continue with impunity and without control, will frustrate efforts to contain the Ebola virus disease in Liberia, undermine the security of the state and the maintenance of law and order, and negatively impact the economy.

Announcing the Supreme Court’s stay order on the executive order, information Minister, Lewis Brown in a nationwide broadcast, said the government has received a notice from the Supreme Court, issuing a stay order on the enforcement of the executive order.

He said this was based on a writ of prohibition by Mr. Sirleaf and that the matter is set for Wednesday this week. However, Minister Brown said all measures put in place for the combat against the spread of the Ebola virus are still in force.