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“Novices Occupying Liberia’s Presidency”-Senators React To Weah’s Decision

By Bill W. Cooper
The recent decision by President George M. Weah to veto the much talked-about Fouani Brothers Agreement, after earlier submitting the instrument for legislative action, has angered two Senators from the Liberian Senate.
Senators Abraham Darius Dillon of Montserrado and Jonathan Boycharles Sogbe of River Gee described the Liberian leader’s actions as unconstitutional and an act of sheer incompetency and ineptness.
Fouani Brothers, which is expected to benefit from a 15-year incentive agreement, obligates the Company to invest in palm farming in Liberia, purchasing all locally grown crude palm oil at fair market value and actively participating in the Out-grower Scheme while addressing supply chain challenges.
Section 11.2 further defines “insufficient supply” as less than 60 percent of the refinery’s average crude palm oil consumption over the previous six months, as the deal further promised to create 25 direct jobs and 50 indirect jobs in Liberia.
Following months of deliberation on the bill, the plenary of the Liberian Senate on December 5, 2023, concurred with the House of Representatives to rectify the US$30,000 Investment Incentive Agreement between the Government and Fouani Brothers Corporation and send to the President for his signature.
The Senate said the Fouani Brothers Corporation Inc. Investment Incentive Agreement is for the construction of a refinery intended to produce finished products of vegetable and other edible oils from crude palm oil.
The body added that the agreement will also create approximately 200 direct jobs and 400 indirect jobs, as well as boost the country’s economy, and that at its 5th anniversary, 50 percent of the most senior positions shall be occupied by Liberians.
But the President vetoed the bill, saying that he wants to give the new administration the chance to correct the loopholes that the bill presents since he is leaving office in days to come.
The President furthered that his decision is in line with Article 35 of the Constitution, which states that “Each bill or resolution which shall have passed both Houses of the Legislature, shall, before it becomes law, be laid before the President for his approval. If he grants approval, it shall become law.
It adds, “If the President does not approve such bill or resolution, he shall return it, with his objections, to the House in which it originated. In so doing, the President may disapprove of the entire bill or resolution or any item or items thereof. This veto may be overridden by the re-passage of such bill, resolution or item thereof by a veto of two-thirds of the members in each House, in which case it shall become law.”
“If the President does not return the bill or resolution within twenty days after the same shall have been laid before him, it shall become law in like manner, as if he had signed it, unless the Legislature, by adjournment, prevents its return. No bill or resolution shall embrace more than one subject which shall be expressed in its title,” It added.
But in reaction, both Senators Dillon and Sogbe questioned the President’s decision, disclosing that the Liberian leader was in total error to have vetoed his own bill submitted for legislative action.
The Senators wondered, “How will the President veto his own bill he submitted? Or is he telling us that he never knew what they (the Executive) signed with Fouani Brothers Corporation?”
Senator Dillon further described the President as being a novice occupying the country’s presidency as a result of his decision to have vetoed the Fouani Brothers Corporation incentive agreement.
“The action by the President has just validated all that we have been saying; this President doesn’t know the work of the Presidency and this clearly shows his level of ignorance, ineptness, and gross incompetence,” he said.
According to him, the bill didn’t originate from the Legislature, instead, it was the Executive who submitted it, and as such, there is no legal backing for the President’s decision to veto the bill.
He noted, “We as legislators do not have the power to alter any instrument coming from the President, but all we can do is to view and make recommendations for the President to sign it into law or correct any missteps if observed.”
“So, the President was wrong and in gross error to have vetoed his own bill submitted for legislative action, and this further shows that Mr. Weah has no idea of how this country is/was being governed,” Dillon added.
Meanwhile, as the country gears up for another transition, it remains to be seen how the incoming administration will proceed in terms of revising agreements to shape the country’s future or cancel or ignore the agreement.

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