Is threat to impeach President Boakai grounded in law?

By: Laymah Kollie

Photo of Representative Frank Saah Foko
Source: Facebook, Rep. Frank Saah Foko page

Liberia: Barely two months in power, the president of Liberia, Joseph Boakai, is being hounded with a threat of impeachment. Representative Frank Saah Foko of District #9 Montserrado threatens to proceed to the Plenary of the House of Representatives with several charges he claims are solid grounds for impeachment.

According to Representative Frank Foko, the president has broken many laws during his short term in office, so he should be impeached.

The Lawmaker’s charges against President Boakai include the Leader’s inability to attend international meetings, failure to host the Armed Forces Day celebration, and what he claims to be the president’s illegal appointments of government officials.

He also mentioned President Boakai’s intention to audit the Central Bank of Liberia as a violation.

Representative Frank Foko threatened impeachment during a live interview with Journalists on Today Liberia TV. Here is the link to Rep. Frank Claims which can be found from 4mins to 8 mins 30 seconds of the video.

“President Boakai has convinced us in one month that he can not steer the affairs of this country.

The president has yet to represent Liberia out of Liberia. Armed Forces Day, the President wouldn’t go and have the program. There are lots of issues. They are breaking the law in many places, just making funny appointments. He just made an open statement that they should audit the Central Bank of Liberia,” Rep. Foko said in part.

A threat to impeach a president by a member of the House of Representatives is a charge too serious to ignore. DUBAWA, therefore, takes a broader look at presidential impeachment to find out what the law says about impeachment generally. What are the grounds for impeachment? What are the procedures for impeachment? What are the president’s defenses to the charge of impeachment?

Grounds of Impeachment

Impeachment is a popular political concept. The Collins defines impeachment as a charge leveled at an official, making them unfit to govern.

The US experienced its first impeachment in 1797 and has since recorded over 60 attempts at impeachment. But the story is different in Liberia. There has not been a sitting President successfully impeached in Liberia’s history. Even though the House of Representatives in 1930 took a procedure to impeach President Charles D. B King. It didn’t materialise because the President resigned before the House took a decision.

A trained Magistrate from the James AA Pierre Judicial Institute, Mr. Joseph S Momorlu, says a president can be impeached on four significant counts. Mr. Momorlu, who is also a Law Interpreter at the Temple of Justice since 2017, cited Article 62 of the Liberian Constitution, which says a sitting President can be impeached on the following counts: Treason, Bribery, Prima Facie case, and other felonies.

Screenshot of Article 62 of the Liberia 1986 Constitution.


The procedure to impeach a president and other high-ranking authorities in government is solely prescribed in Article 43 of the Liberia 1986 Constitution.

The law states, “The power to prepare a bill of impeachment is vested solely in
the House of Representatives and the power to try all impeachments is vested solely in the Senate. When the President, Vice President, or Associate Justice is to be tried, the Chief Justice shall preside; when the Chief Justice or a judge of a subordinate court of record is to be tried, the President of the Senate shall preside. No person shall be impeached but by the concurrence of two-thirds of the total membership of the Senate. Judgments in such cases shall not extend beyond removal from office and disqualification to hold public office in the Republic, but the party may be tried at law for the same offense. The Legislature shall prescribe the procedure for impeachment proceedings which shall conform with the requirements of due process of law”

Are Foko’s Impeachment claims valid?
There have been varied opinions about the charges leveled against the president.

According to the Law Interpreter, the alleged crimes mentioned by the Representative are not mentioned within the Penal Law of Liberia nor the Constitution of the Republic as justifiable reasons for the impeachment of a President.

He explained further what the revised Panel Law of 1978 also entails:

In the Penal Code, the following crimes are interpreted below:

11.1. Treason.

Treason against the Republic shall consist of:

(a) levying war against the Republic;
(b) aligning oneself with or aiding and abetting another nation or people with whom Liberia is at war or in a state of war;
(c) acts of espionage for an enemy state;
(d) attempting by overt acts to overthrow the Government, rebellion against the Republic, insurrection, and mutiny, and
(e) abrogating or attempting to repeal, subvert, or conspire to subvert the Constitution by use of force, show of force, or by any other means which attempts to undermine the Constitution of Liberia.

12.50. Bribery.

1. Offense. A person has committed bribery, a second-degree felony if he knowingly offers, gives, or agrees to give to another or solicits, accepts, or agrees to accept from another a thing of value as consideration for:

(a) The recipient’s official action as a public servant; or
(b) The recipient’s violation of a known duty as a public servant.
2. Defense precluding. It is no defense to a prosecution under this section that a recipient was not qualified to act in the desired way, whether because he had not yet assumed office, or lack jurisdiction, or for any other reason.

3. Prima facie case. A prima facie case is established under this section upon proof that the thing of value was offered, given, or agreed to be given, or solicited, accepted, or agreed to be accepted, as consideration for the recipient’s official action or violation of a known legal duty as a public servant if:

(a) The consideration was a thing of monetary value; and
(b) The actor knew that he was offered, given, or agreed to be given, solicited, or accepted from a person having an interest in an imminent or pending
(i) investigation, arrest, or judicial or administrative proceeding, or
(ii) bid, contract, claim, or application, and that interest could be affected by the recipient’s performance or non-performance of his official action or violation of his known legal duty as a public servant.

1. Felonies. Felonies are classified for the purpose of sentence into the following three categories:

(a) Felonies of the first degree;
(b) Felonies of the second degree;
(c) Felonies of the third degree.
(d) “Felony” means an offense for which a sentence of death or a term of imprisonment of more than one year is authorized.

It is clear from the above that the charges the representative is leveling against the president, for which reason he is seeking an impeachment, cannot stand the test of impeachment rigour.

Also, in further verification, our researcher checked the Code of Conduct of Liberia but didn’t find a section that speaks about presidential appointments and statements on audit, nor refusal to attend international functions as crimes to be used for impeachment purposes.

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