More Lashes Over Dean’s Appointment

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With the curtain winding down on the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) led government of President George Manneh Weah, the president’s decision to appoint Justice Minister Cllr. Frank Musa Dean to the Supreme Court Bench has been greeted by more public criticisms. It can be recalled that President Weah on Wednesday, December 27, 2023 controversially nominated Justice Minister Dean as Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of Liberia to replace Associate Justice, Joseph Nagbe due to his (Nagbe) early retirement as a result of ill health. The nomination by the Liberian leader has received mixed reactions with several individuals and rights based groups including the National Civil Society Council (NCSCL) expressing serious opposition to the President’s decision on grounds that it’s untimely for such tenure position that is age-bound. But despite the increasing public outcries, the nominee is set to face the Senate’s committee on Judiciary, Human Rights, Claims and Petition for confirmation hearing.  The Senate’s decision to forward the Associate Justice-designate for confirmation hearing was based on a motion proffered by Grand Cape Mount County Senator, Simeon Boima Taylor during the body’s Special Sitting on Thursday. It is likely that a full report will be crafted and submitted by the Committee by next week for confirmation action by the Plenary of the Senate following his appearance for the hearing. But on the heel of these developments, the umbrella organization for all civil society organizations in the country is cautioning the Liberian Senate to halt all confirmation proceedings on ground that the nomination for the sake of expediency.  Appointment of an Associate Justice by the President is backed by Article 54 (c) of the Liberian Constitution; however, it contravenes the Liberian leader’s own recent directive, in which he stated in County #4 “All new employment and service contracts across government institutions are hereby suspended. There shall be no promotions and salaries increase during this transition period.” The Council in a statement issued Friday, December 29, 2023 pointed out that while appointment power is granted onto the President by the organic law of the state – the Constitution, nomination for the position of Associate Justice by a President who has less than 25 days in office raises more questions than answer, and as such, the Senate should halt the process. “The National Civil Society County of Liberia is taken aback by President Weah’s latest appointment of Justice Minister Cllr. Frank Musa Dean to the Supreme Court Bench. Though Article 50 of the Liberian Constitution grants executive power unto the President, but for the sake of expediency, we think this appointment is untimely and is questionable,” said the Council’s statement carved under the signature of its Chairperson, Madam Loretta Pope-Kai.  “Secondly, the latest appointment does not support President Weah’s own Presidential Directive, in which he halted all new employment and service contracts across government institutions. Therefore, we are calling on members of the Liberian Senate to halt all processes of regarding this nomination. The Senate must take cue from the US Senate, when it rejected Merrick Brian Garland, who was lately appointed by President Barack Obama in 2016,” added the Council.

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