TQ Harris Writes Opposition Community -Says SoE is Valid, but…; urges “Let’s solicit Humanitarian assistance from people of good will”

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The United People’s Party (UPP), National Chairman, Mr. TQ Harris has called on leaders of Opposition Political Community of Liberia to consider deciding how to assist in managing the novel Coronavirus Pandemic and the National State of Emergency that is currently in effect.

Stating that as national leaders, leadership of the various opposition parties are obliged, Mr. Harris further implores the opposition leaders to call on party members and the public at large to fully comply with their leaders to assist in managing the Coronavirus Pandemic for the common good of the country.

The UPP’s National Chairman made the statement on April 16, 2020 in a NOTE to the leaders of Opposition Political Community of Liberia.

Mr. Harris further said “While the Government is mobilizing resources to support efforts aimed at ameliorating and eliminating the impact of the pandemic on the population, we, as leaders and members of the opposition political community, should help to lessen the burden on the people by soliciting – through our own initiatives -humanitarian assistance, from people of good will.”

In his NOTE, Mr. Harris indicated, “… we should devise plans to provide direct assistance for vulnerable groups in various communities of the country. I am pleased to inform that the United People’s Party (UPP) intends to do just that, and will be more than happy to collaborate with others in this regard.”

He also the measures taken by the President under the state of emergency duly declared and consistent with Articles 85, 86, 87, and 88, of the 1986 Constitution are valid and, therefore, should be complied with, the opposition leader asserted.

The UPP leader said the opposition leaders of the country should continue to advise their partisans and foreign friends that: No person within the territorial borders of Liberia should resist the legal and constitutional measures the Government is implementing for the purpose of saving lives.

“But, what if measures announced by the President are enforced in a manner that inflict undue pain and suffering on citizens and non-citizens, and cause discomfort within the society? Chapter IX of the Liberian Constitution, Articles 85 and 87, are abundantly clear as it relates to this issue,” he said.

He cited Article 85(a), stating: The President may, in consultation with the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the President Pro Tempore of the Senate, proclaim and declare the existence of a state of emergency in the Republic or any part thereof.

He continued the citation, “Acting pursuant thereto, the President may suspend or affect certain rights, freedoms and guarantees contained in this Constitution and exercise such other emergency powers as may be necessary and appropriate to take care of the emergency, subject, however, to the limitations contained in this Chapter.”

Concerning Article 87(a), Mr. Harris quoted: Emergency powers do not include the power to suspend or abrogate the Constitution, dissolve the Legislature, or suspend or dismiss the Judiciary; and no constitutional amendments shall be promulgated during a state of emergency. Where the Legislature is not in session, it must be convened immediately in special session and remain in session during the entire period of the state of emergency.

Also citing Article 87(b) to support his point, the UPP’s national chairman explained that the Constitution says, “The writ of habeas corpus shall remain available and exercisable at all times and shall not be suspended on account of any state of emergency. It shall be enjoyed in the most free, easy, inexpensive, expeditious and ample manner. Any person who suffers from a violation of this right may challenge such violation in a court of competent jurisdiction.”

Hear Mr. Harris: My Esteemed Colleagues, the primary reason for this NOTE is to encourage not just us, leaders of the opposition political community, but Liberians in general that, in the event we begin to experience the unfolding of two emergencies: (1) the continued spread of the Coronavirus, and (2), the abuse of Human Rights by Government agents who are commissioned to enforce compliance, we must quickly file formal notifications with the relevant agencies.

Speaking about the continued spread of the coronavirus notwithstanding efforts to contain it, and abuse of Human Rights by Government Security agents, Mr. Harris said a clear and concise notification must be sent immediately to the Minister of Health, or the Minister of Justice or the Minister of National Defense.

“[The] formal notification must provide details and facts as to who, when, where, what, and how. The notification, once made to the relevant agency, should be publicized and copies deposited with the office of the President; the office of the Speaker of the House of Representatives; and the office of the President Pro Tempore of the Liberian Senate,” he said.

He said he presents this NOTE, confident that, President Weah, by his declaration of the national state of emergency and measures intended to stop the spread of the Coronavirus, did not in any way intend the use of violence against any person.

“I pray that we all will exercise precaution and be safe as we go through these challenging times,” he concluded.

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