In a recent interview with FrontpageAfrica, Counselor Marcus Jones, one of Liberia’s renowned lawyers and Acting Dean of the Lewis Arthur Grime School of Law of the University of Liberia, one of Africa’s finest law schools, warned President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf and most of the potential Presidential candidates intending to contest the Presidency in 2011 elections are not eligible to contest on grounds they fall short of article 52 (c) of the Liberia constitution which requires a ten year residency in the country as one of the qualifications a citizen must meet to qualify to contest for the chief executive of the nation. Article 52 (c) inserted as follows.
resident in the Republic ten years prior to his election, provided that the President and the Vice–President shall not come from the same County.
Counselor Jones vowed President Sirleaf and most of the potential candidates were not resident in the country for ten years as required by the constitution and as such that makes them automatically disqualify to contest for the Presidency in 2011 elections.
From the surface Counselor Jones argument would seem outright and in the spirit of building a society and country where the rule law is implanted as the cornerstone for our the young democracy on the horizon, one would be receptive to his argument and see where he is coming from.
Is Counselor Jones actually right in his understanding and interpretation of article 52 (c), the basis of his argument or is just that it is the only article in the constitution of all the many articles, that he would not had looked at other articles which supercede article 52 (c) if it is (are) violated, compromised and or just paralyzed to effect itself because of prevailing circumstances beyond its reach like the break down of authority, law and order, and war. Another interesting focus to consider is the contract between the constitution and the governed. A contract which allots equal burden of responsibility to each, that the governed live by the precepts of the constitution and the constitution itself live by its side of the social contract by guaranteeing the individual person his security and society what it promised the governed. Fundamental of that part of the social contract is the constitution itself lives and functions at all times, the only basis upon which it can require the governed to live by every salt of its own side of the social contract.
Firstly, let’s see what the Counselor’s keyword “resident” in the legal context as applied in the constitution since the constitution is a supreme legal instrument of a country and then go on to examine how law and international relations and immigration have to say about “resident” and then draw a parallel to see whether in fact Counselor Jones’ argument is well thoughtful and constitutionally radiant.
According to the Bouvier Dictionary 6th edition and Black Dictionary, 14th edition put it:
RESIDENT, persons. A person coming into a place with intention to establish his domicile or permanent residence, and who in consequence actually remains there. Time is not so essential as the intent, executed by making or beginning an actual establishment, though it be abandoned in a longer, or shorter period. See 6 Hall’s Law Journ. 68; 3 Hagg. Eccl. R. 373; 20 John. 211 2 Pet. Ad. R. 450; 2 Scamm. R. 377
Reviewing the legal interpretation provided above and juxtaposing it in full context as applied in the constitution, specifically article 52 (c), the 10 year resident clause is in fact not applicable and has no bearing of validity legally on any Liberian citizen since a Liberian is not a foreign citizen with residence in Liberia. A “resident” is a foreign citizen who comes to another country to establish that country as his permanent residence and domicile later. A citizen can not be resident in his own country because a resident is in transient, meaning temporary resident in another country with foreign citizenship but establishing that country as his residence but maintaining his domicile of own country (domicile). The resident clause of the Liberia constitution is irrelevant and meaningless because it makes no legal sense or applicable on a Liberian citizen, most of all it is illegal.
Foreign nationals running for President?
Taking article 52 (c) for what it is, contradicts the constitution itself which stipulates only a Liberian citizen can contend for office in Liberia and a sell out of the country to foreigners to come into the country, spend 10 years and then he or she can run for President and Vice President of Liberia. That is the legal interpretation article 52 (c) stipulates and it is a scary thing and a shameful national embarrassment to our country which smart legal minds and Liberians must collectively trash out of the constitution rather than anyone attempting to edify it.
Indeed, article 52 (c) is not a legal or constitutional basis to prevent President Sirleaf and what Marcus Jones considers most of the potential Presidential candidates from running in 2011 elections. Article 52 (c) is a hoax inserted in the constitution by the framers either by lacked of proper legal guidance when the constitution was being framed or through fraud with a hidden motive which has cut up with the nation today.
There are lots of significant reasons why President Sirleaf and other Presidential candidates can be prevented from running in 2011 but article 52 (c) is not one of such reasons. For President Sirleaf if Counselor so desire to keep her out of the 2011 elections, his best bet is to look at her TRC appearance, where by all indication as per the TRC report which banned her from running for public office that she lied under oath committing perjury for not telling the truth about her role in the 1985 Quiwonkpa coupe. The widow of General Quiwonkpa waged systematic war demanding President Sirleaf tell her what happened to her husband who according to her was manipulated by President Sirleaf to go to Liberia and overthrow the Doe government but died in the process instead. Finally the President invited Mrs. Quiwonkpa to Liberia this summer and after the meeting Mrs. Quiwonkpa it said they settled their differences. That reconciliation the President brokered with Mrs. Quiwonkpa is a testament she confirmed Mrs. Quiwonkpa’s public outcry that the President in fact involve in significant way in th ecoupe but her testimonies to the TRC gave a different picture, saying she had nothing to do with the coupe and was doing her international work but was only told about it. This contradiction from the President with Mrs. Quiwonkpa’s rightly holds her for lying under oath and committing perjury, which is a criminal offense and a basis for impeachment if found guilty.
Other faucets which will serve Counselor Jones well to prevent the President from contesting, are using article 76 of the Liberia constitution for her role in the crisis as she herself confirmed to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) she indeed provided a financial support of US$10,000.00 to Charles Taylor to prosecute the 14 year war and the TRC Report. Article 76 which stipulates as follows:
Treason against the Republic shall consist of:
levying war against the Republic;
aligning oneself with or aiding and abetting another nation or people with whom Liberia is at war or in a state of war;
acts of espionage for an enemy state;
attempting by overt act to overthrow the Government, rebellion against the Republic, insurrection and mutiny; and
abrogating or attempting to abrogate, subverting or attempting or conspiring to subvert the Constitution by use of force or show of force or any other means which attempts to undermine this Constitution
Article 52 (c) unfortunately can not be used as a basis to prevent President Sirleaf and other potential candidates from running for public office in next year’s election because that article is a hoax and a fraud which has no legal bearing on a Liberian citizen and is itself has no foundation and must be trashed out of the Liberia constitution to save our country the embarrassment. It can not survive legal scrutiny when sent to court
If at all article 52 (c) was relevant to Counselor Jones’ vow, the constitution could not hold the governed responsible for the break down of the constitution itself when it in fact failed to protect and provide the security individual person security and create a livable environment for its citizens. Through out the 14 year war the constitution was in coma and did not live up to its side of the social contract by providing a livable environment and the security of the person. There was break down of law and order and the constitution was no where to be found putting citizens and society at the mercy of lawlessness and destruction. After 14 years of coma and temporary unconsciousness of the constitution, it can not require the governed to have lived up to its side of the contract when in reality the constitution itself never existed and the governed and society left at the descretion of anarchy.
With the preponderance of the facts discussed herein, Counselor Marcus Jones is wrong to prevent President Sirleaf and other potential candidates from running on the basis on 52 (c) of the constitution residency clause.