President Sirleaf Did Not Violate Constitution

Wednesday, 31st January 2007
The attention of the Office of the Press Secretary to the President has been drawn to statements in some circles suggesting that the President of the Republic of Liberia, Mrs. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, violated the Constitution of Liberia when she addressed the Joint Session of the National Legislature on Monday, January 29, 2007.  Those statements are not only wrong, but outrightly misleading and deceptive.

We wish to state categorically that the President has not violated the Constitution which she has sworn to uphold. By addressing the Joint Session of the Legislature on Monday, January 29, the President was only fulfilling her constitutional obligation under Article 58, which mandates the Chief Executive to deliver an Annual Message to the National Legislature on the fourth working Monday in January of each year.

Additionally, had the President proceeded to the Centennial Pavilion to deliver her Annual Message without a quorum, contrary to Article 33 of the Constitution, the President would have, infact, been in violation of the Constitution.

It is an open secret that the meeting of some law-makers at the Centennial Memorial Pavilion on Monday, January 29, was without a quorum.

The facts of the matter are:

1.    The Supreme Court in its ruling on Monday, January 29, did not rule on the issue of venue, eventhough count 12 of the Petitioner’s Petition requested the Court to rule on the issue of venue.

2.    The President, prior to addressing the Session, sought the opinion of some respectable senior lawyers and former Justices, and they  all were of the opinion that addressing the Joint Session in Virginia, was not a violation of the Court’s ruling.
3.    Under the circumstances, the President could not have avoided her constitutional responsibility and obligation by not delivering her Message to the Joint Session of the National Legislature because by so doing, the very political parties and individuals now speaking of violations would have had legal and legitimate grounds for criticizing the President for not fulfilling her constitutional duties.

4.    The Chief Justice and the Supreme Court Bench did not stay away from the occasion due to the venue as being speculated. The Chief Justice in a letter to the President said “with great deference to you, Madam President, we regret to inform you that it would be an affront to the Supreme Court of Liberia were the Supreme Court to appear at the Unity Conference Center…under the gavel of one of the respondents, as you deliver your Annual  Message.”

It is clear that the Chief Justice’s letter to the President did not raise the issue of venue, but rather, the name of one of the respondents, presiding over the Joint Session of the Legislature.

The President reiterates her commitment to the rule of law and the constitution of the Nation and will do nothing to undermine it.