A Liberian opposition member of the House of Representatives has threatened to bring impeachment proceedings against President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf for what he called aiding and abetting cheating during the country’s 2005 presidential election.
President Sirleaf, who is currently attending the U.N. General Assembly in New York, reportedly told a forum at a public school in New York’s Harlem community that she was aware that women who supported her during the 2005 election confiscated the voting cards of their children fearing, if they did do so, their children would vote for rival George Weah.
Sirleaf also reportedly said women told her that “they did some unorthodox things.”
Representative Acarous Gray, of Weah’s Congress for Democratic Change (CDC), said it is a criminal matter in Liberia to deprive people of their right to vote. Gray said Sirleaf’s reported revelations confirmed his party’s claims the 2005 election was fraudulent.
“The oath of office says she [the president] should uphold and defend the constitution of the Republic Liberia and all other laws. If groups of people stole voter registration cards from their children at night and they confessed to her, many years have come and gone, and the president did not take action, it is a criminal matter to deprive people of their voting rights. So, it means the president was in full support. She aided and abetted the process, and the president refused, as the executor of the law, to have some charges against those who were involved,” Gray said.
Gray said the CDC is in consultation with other members of parliament to put together an impeachment bill.
“We’ve been in consultative meetings with many lawmakers, some from the Congress for Democratic Change," he said. "We are studying the possibility [of] presenting a bill of impeachment. So, we’ve spoken to legal-minded people because this action by those who stole the voter registration cards affects the CDC a whole lot in the 2005 runoff election.”
Weah came second to Sirleaf in the 2005 election. The international community said, at the time, the election was free and fair.
Gray said the president’s reported comments confirmed a CDC complaint that the 2005 election was fraudulent.
“The CDC did accuse numerous parents of taking their children’s registration cards, and also people buying voter registration cards,” Gray said.
The ruling Unity Party has the majority in parliament, which could make the an impeachment effort impossible.
Gray said, however, he’s confident his fellow members of parliament will do the right thing when it comes to launching impeachment proceedings.
“I know that very sound people were elected. I do not want to preempt that. But, just in case there is a negation, I can tell you that our children today and our children tomorrow will definitely remember that we took an action on the basis of a fraudulent process,” Gray said.
Acting Information Minister Norris Tweah said Gray should not be criticizing the president while she is performing duties abroad.
“It is utterly unfortunate for a representative to be calling for the impeachment of a sitting president while that sitting president is performing national duties abroad. President Sirleaf is attending the 67th
United Nations General Assembly. It is a standard operating procedure that you do not criticize a sitting president while that sitting president is abroad," Tweah said.