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Liberia: Was the Presidential Oath of Office Taken Improperly?

The Liberian capital Monrovia, which has for the past months been associated with riots and political tensions was the scene of splendor as Liberians from all walks of life peacefully witnessed the 2nd term inaugural ceremony of President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf and Vice President Joseph N.Boakai on January 16, 2012. Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf won presidential election last year that was marred by violence and boycott.

The inaugural ceremony was graced by the oppositions Congress for Democratic Change (CDC) which initially threatened to stage a demonstration and carry out a parallel inauguration ceremony.

Liberia's President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf and Vice President Joseph N.Boakai during the ceremony. Photo courtesy of http://frontpageafricaonline.com.

In her inaugural address titled “The Values of a Patriot”, President Johnson-Sirleaf challenged the nation to answer the patriot's call of duty:

Let us go forth from this Inauguration Day to roll up our sleeves, to make the sacrifices necessary for our continued growth and development: economic, educational, moral and spiritual.

let us resolve that our pride in our Liberian nation, and in our tradition and heritage, will be manifested in a new commitment to the democratic processes that we mark on this solemn occasion.

She further stressed:

A victim of elections violence ahead of Liberia's presidential run-off. Image courtesy of @liberiaelection.

True reconciliation means a process of national healing.  It means learning the lessons of the past to perfect our democracy.  But above all it means economic justice for our citizens and the spread of progress to all our people.  It means creating jobs, opportunities and giving our young people the skills they need to prosper and create the life they choose.

The youths of Liberia are our future, and they sent us a message.  They are impatient.  They are eager to make up for years of conflict and deprivation. They are anxious to know that their homeland offers the grounds for hope.  Let me say to them: We heard that message and it is our solemn obligation to ensure that their hope will not be in vain

Oldman Nagbe, a reader at Frontpage Africa, reminds the government to save the Liberian people and not their families:

Congratulations to all Liberians for providing a peaceful atmosphere for the hosting of the inauguration.

Congratulations to all political parties for participating in the inaugural process. This is an indication that we can put our differences aside and work for the common good of our nation.

To the new government that will be put into place soon, please remember, you will be working for the Liberian people and not for you and your families. We will therefore be looking forward to seeing you working with us to build a better Liberia. You will be there to serve your people and not your people serving you. Do not pay any blind loyalty to your party or the president. The President wants you to be straight with her. You will her advisors, please tell her the truth.

We as Liberians, let be our pledge to work along with government in rebuilding our Country. Nobody can for us, but we ourselves.

CONGRATULATIONS MADAME PRESIDENT AND WE LOOK FORWARD TO SEEING A NEW LIBERIA.

LIBERIA, FORWARD FOREVER AND BACKWARD NEVER!

At Liberia Elections 2011 Media Monitoring Group, J.Forkpayeah Akoi Tellewoyan, a Liberian software development engineer, highlights his favorite part of the address:

My favorite part -Pres. Sirleaf: Patriotism does not mean blind Loyalty to power, indeed sometimes the highest demonstration of patriotism may well be seen, when citizens peaceful and respectfully express their oppositions to particular policies propose by those elected to government. Patriots freely and openly and even passionately disagree about what is best for the Nation they love.

Lorenzo Gartorr, a Liberian Behavior Therapist residing in the United States, reflects:

Today was a fulfillment of what is a common trend in a democratic society(Where the incumbent is 75% of the time elected ),also in a democratic society there is an unwritten law of the main opposition taking power after the ruling party 2nd term. As we all know that election is won base on popularity, assuming that Winston Tubman will not be on CDC ticket in the next election and with no one as popular as Weah in Liberia in the absent of Ellen. Can we assume that Liberia will be lead by a Weah's Presidency after Ellen ?

A Liberian who humorously refers to himself as Crazy Man opined quite sanely:

To our youths: Let’s us put our nation first! As a wise leader once said, “Free speech is the first requisite of freedom and a viable, functioning democracy. The exercise of it cannot be at the option of those who think the right to dissent includes the right to destroy.” This wise saying implies that our youths should not mistake freedom of speech as their democratic right to vandalize, to loot, and to have no conscience for the rule of laws that governs us as a Republic. May God grant our political leaders and youths the wisdom to disagree but to use tolerance for the rule of law to settle disputes through dialogue, and non-violence means! Liberians, let’s give peace a chance! May God bless our Republic.

The ceremony had some embarrassing moments.

Liberia's famous Robot-man sending out message of national unity. Photo courtesy of tlcafrica.com.


But in the midst of the pageantry of President Sirleaf’s inauguration with several world leaders and dignitaries in attendance, major blunders and errors in protocol overshadowed the fanfare as the audience and observers  noticed  kept murmuring.One of the most embarrassing and perhaps a constitutional headache and gaff in the  administering the Oath of  Office to the Liberian President in keeping with the constitution…

As the Chief Justice administered the Oath of Office to the Liberian President, rather than raise her right hand in confirmation to taking an oath and as the country’s constitution dictates and followed by all Liberian President before the 24th Liberian President, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, she instead was given a microphone through which she repeated the oath as the Chief Justice, Johnnie Lewis administered the oath of office to her and neither did she place her hand on the Holy Bible and kiss it at the finish of the reading of oath as the normal and usual ritual of all Presidents, including President Sirleaf when she was inaugurated the first time in 2006 to her first term of office.

Here is the solution:

…the Liberian President did not take her oath office since it was not done properly and needs to be re-administered just as president Barrack Obama Oath of Office was re-administered the next day by Chief Justice John Roberts the next morning in the White House because the Oath of Office was mistakenly read by the Chief Justice.

Wade Williams describes this moment in Liberia's political history as “Rebirth of Democracy”:

My best dressed Liberian at the inauguration. Photo courtesy of tlcafrica.com.

Cooper Kwame reminds the government in this fashionable narrative:

I just read the President's inaugural speech. It is a hopeful speech and it recognizes the urgent need to pay serious attention to those President Tolbert referred to as his “precious jewels.”

Six years ago the talk was about “papa na come.” People were highly hopeful and expectations were very high. Papa did come home, day after day, after venting his frustration for six years! Papa did not bring home money to feed his family, but he came home knowing that no one was following him to arrest him or to harm him and his family.

For six long and excruciating years papa and his family endured the many hardships in a free, democratic, and peaceful society. Papa has shown his loyalty and patriotism and it is time for him and his family to reap the benefits for helping to secure a free nation.

The majority of the people of Liberia have suffered for too long: No electricity, no pipe-borne water, no paved roads, few high schools and universities, few clinics and hospitals, few jobs

Reacting to Wade's post, Taynue says:

I like president Sirleaf but, she's not honest when she says Liberia is no longer a country of conflict and deprivation. Unemployment is above 70% that deprives people. Opposition dropped threats of demonstration just hours before inauguration. Some of our fellow citizens died during post elections violence. Isn't that conflict? Several liberians were involved in the conflict in the Ivory Coast. They are our neigbor. I think they scare us.
Madam president, you've got a lot to do just be honest and ask the liberian people to help you steer this nation. Stop white washing stuff good leaders don't do that.

4 comments

  • Let the oath be re-taken;Madam Sirleaf isn’t a better than President Obama.

  • […] Joyce Banda is the second female president in Africa after Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia. Written by Victor Kaonga Posted 7 April 2012 12:56 GMT ·  Print […]

  • […] filoha Joyce Banda no vehivavy filoha ao Afrika faharoan manaraka an'i Ellen Johnson Sirleaf avy ao Liberia. Mpanoratra miora Voadika […]

  • With some extra political orientation and empowerment Africa as a continent should boast of more qualified female leaders!We’ve got ladies with the potentials yet we tend to suppress and intimidate them when it is actually the time that we give them the requisite push to mount the podium of leadership…I’m exceedingly glad that the gallant people of Malawi survived the perennial continental temptation of denying our resourceful women the rare chance to the lead…………..

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