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Should County Land Boundary Disputes Await Presidential Panacea?

Few days ago I did an article about the issue of representation of people from the various sub-divisions of the country into the national Legislature. In that piece, I showed the importance of democracy, especially so as it relates to the governance of the country and citizens’ participation in the decision- making process.

I emphatically stated that one of the things I admire democracy is the issue of the involvement of the people in the governance of their country. As the simple definition of democracy says it is a government of the people by the people and for the people. In the definition are three prepositions-“of, by and for”, which clearly shows some kind of relationship and connection. It is an antithesis to dictatorship, which can be likened to arbitrariness.

I said that as it relates to representation, this is done through the elections of individuals to represent various sectors of the country. And that such individuals are found in the National Legislature who are elected by the people in various sectors to represent them in the system of governance. These individuals in the legislature have three cardinal functions- representation, oversight and lawmaking.

That piece was prompted by some of the issues being raised by citizens as President George Weah continues his nationwide tour. That is, some of the issues that should be handled by local leaders and their representatives in the National Legislature, are some of those issues being raised by the citizens to the President.

Furthermore, I even stated that the essence of ARTICLE THREE of the Constitution, which states” Liberia is a unitary sovereign state divided into counties for administrative purpose. The form of government is Republican with three separate coordinate branches: the Legislative, the Executive and the Judiciary. Consistent with the principles of separation of powers and checks and balances, no person holding office in one of these branches shall hold office in or exercise any of the powers assigned to either of the other two branches except as otherwise provided in this Constitution; and no person holding office in one of the said branches shall serve on any autonomous public agency.’

Pointedly, I reiterated that one of the reasons for this provision is to ensure that one branch does not unnecessarily exercise undue power or influence over others, thereby promoting the “checks and balances” in the governance system. In other words, the checks and balances system is to ensure that one branch does not employ arbitrariness in the running of the government, which relates to the oversight function of the legislators. In short, it also means the total involvement of the people in the decision-making process of the country.

In that piece I cited as an example that if the Executive Branch headed by the President prepares the national budget, it is submitted to the Legislature for scrutiny, during which time they would ensure that the concerns and needs of their people are also considered.
Likewise, in the case of certain appointments in the Executive Branch, although the President has the carte blanche to do so, such individuals would be presented to the Liberian Senate for confirmation hearing to either confirm or reject them. This is in line with the objective or reason of checks and balances.

This was seen recently when the Liberian Senate threatened to jail the Board of Commissioners of the National Elections Commission (NEC) and that body appropriately sought a prohibition from the Supreme Court to forestall the decision of the Senate and at the same time, challenging the legality of the planned action by the Senate. That resulted to the High Court placing a “STAY ORDER” on the Senate’s pending action.

Today’s piece is to reinforce what I discussed few days ago as it relates to representation, which comes in two forms. One is done by the President through the appointments of individuals who are referred to as “vicegerents,’ while the other is done by the citizens through elections of individuals known as senators and members of the House of Representatives.

Disappointingly, as the President continues his tour, I am hearing county leaders raising issue of land disputes and are seeking the involvement of the President to resolve these disputes. This is where I am disappointment in our local leaders and their legislators on Capitol Hill. These are matters that should be handled by those local leaders through what is referred to as “Town Hall Meeting’ or “Under The “Palaver Hut” discussion.

It is always good for those involved in a conflict to always find a workable and amicable solutions. That is, the solution must evolve from the people. I am not against people seeking the President’s intervention, but it must originate from those concerned to get the blessing of the President because there is a likelihood that if it comes from the President, it may not end the conflict, perhaps, it could add insult to injury.

The reasons why local leaders are appointed and other individuals are elected is to work together to solve whatever problem that may exit in their various locales and is to engage in activities and projects in the interest of their people and county.

As a lawyer, I am aware that LAND is what is referred to as REAL PROPERTY. Even if the structures on the land are destroyed or demolished, the land would always remain. Therefore, whatever concerns land disputes should be handled with meticulousness or care with the full participation or involvement of the appropriate parties or disputants.

Unquestionably and frankly it was because of the plethora of land disputes in the country that gave rise to the creation of the Liberian Land Authority (LLA) to handle such issues. Besides, there are many land cases in court.

Perhaps, if the counties involved cannot find an amicable solution, they could employ what is known in law as “ARBITRATION,” which is one way of settling dispute without going to court. This can come about if people in a dispute disagreed. It is referred to as “ the method of dispute resolution involving one or more neutral third parties who are unusually agreed to by the disputing parties and whose decision is bounding”.

Why concluding the article I have learned that the issue has claimed the attention of President Weah, who accordingly has announced the setting-up of a special committee compromising of elders, chief and members of the legislative caucuses of Maryland, River Gee and Grand Kru counties aimed at settling the continued borders impasse.

Indeed, this is a good initiative, notwithstanding, local leaders and their legislators should always learn to handle such issue or conflict.

Once more, my input into existing boundary disputes should first be handled by the disputants or parties involved and if it remains unresolved or unsettled, then, an arbitrator would be invited to help solve it to the satisfaction of all of the disputing parties.

Hence, we should desist from awaiting Presidential panacea for what we can do as a people and citizens.

I Rest My Case.

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