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President Sirleaf Errs Again

The so-called “big time error” of president Sirleaf on prostitution is not about the president being conversant of the constitution and all the laws of the land or not. It is not about criminalizing prostitution or giving it a pass. It underscores a fundamental malfunction not just in the Sirleaf presidency but past administrations as well where the president heads all three branches of government and rules the country like an omniscient and infallable small god. Should the president be interpreting our laws? Should she be playing foreign minister at times and touring the globe? Should she be explaining to the public what the law says or does not say? Of course not! But every now and then, we catch our president adopting this know-it-all attitude and misleading the nation in the process or perpetuating the imperial presidency malady that has persistently robbed our country and plunged it into chaos.

As a leader taking the country from the “ashes of war,” the president needs to be aware of these social issues most of which are the byproducts of our years of bloodshed and lawlessness and address them with policies and programs without abdicating her responsibility or hiding behind what is legal or not legal even when she does not seem to know what the law says about certain things. This is unacceptable especially for a nation whose laws were completely broken or never adhered to for over a decade. For many years, the heartless and ruthless preyed on the rest of us for power and wealth with no regards for the laws, human decency or what is proper. So for a post war president to either be ignorant of the laws or deliberately telling stories so as to defend her administration’s lack of will in the face of these social calamities is not only unacceptable but demonstrates her insensitivity to the plight of the ordinary Liberian forced to endure these grueling social and economic evils.

It is not out of character for the Justice Minister, any government official for that matter, and other “emergency responders” to come to the president’s defense so as to project her image of infallibility. We are used to it in Liberia where the president heads the largest and sole employment agency-the government and is sometimes ascribed some of the qualities of God. It is also not uncommon for individuals to put up defenses such as “to err is human, nobody is perfect…” so as to make excuses for their actions or the actions of others. Again, we are used to it especially when it involves the president who, like a farmer “ who holds the knife and holds the yam,” to a large extent plays a major role in determining the livelihood of every citizen. "Wle-mon-gar," so our Bassa friends say. And that is to say "money makes an individual" and therefore one can go at any length to defend the one who is the source of that money supply.

The president and what the laws say have been in the news before. Almost three years ago when her Minister of State for Presidential Affairs Mr. Willis Knuckles was caught on camera in sexual acts with two ladies and those nude pictures circulated wide on the internet, she dragged feet asking Mr. Knuckles to resign on grounds that the act was not unconstitutional. Judging from the photos, it was impossible to determine if those involved in the sexual act with the minister were minors, paid prostitutes or coerced into the act by the powerful minister, long time friend and right hand man of the president. Notwithstanding, the president without the benefit of an investigation, ruled the act legal and constitutional.

In Liberia where the president’s utterances are near gospel, these instances should remind Liberians that whatever the president says about abhorring sexual activities and the constitution must be taken with a grain of salt. And I think exposing the president's shortcomings playing the Judicial branch is a good thing for the country. It will give fellow Liberians the tools to question or not to believe everything that the president says especially when she is asking for their votes. Now they know that what was thought as gospel is no longer the case. The president can err and she is neither good with explaining the law nor knowing what the law says about some major things. Surprise, surprise!

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