George Weah (L) and Joseph Boakai (R)

Read these lines:

  • President George Weah and his vice president, Jewel Howard Taylor, met with Joseph Boakai, president-elect, and his VP-elect, Jeremiah Koung, to coordinate the transition between both administrations.
  • In Liberia, there is no regulatory framework or law that guides the transfers of government and
  • The steps to follow the proclamation of the Joint Presidential Transitional Team (JPTT) established by Executive Order #12. In this note, we review the recommendations of specialists for an orderly presidential transition.

Joseph Nyumah Boakai was elected in the runoff election on November 14, 2023, and a transition is underway. 

Boakai is replacing football icon George Manneh Weah, the political leader of the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC). Both leaders met, and a discussion was held on November 26, 2023.

Boakai, the political leader of the Unity Party, designated 20 prominent Liberian citizens for the JPTT.

What does this transition entail? What are the recommendations of specialists for an orderly transfer of government?

What do we call government transition?

“Transition or transfer of government is defined as the transfer of power and responsibilities from an outgoing government to an incoming government, which necessitates collaboration and coordination between both the political level and government agencies (bureaucratic level) to minimize interruptions in administration and public services,” Henry B. Fahnbulleh, former Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister, explained to TSM.

Liberia has no transition law; President Weah sets up the current transition teams according to Executive Order No. 12. An order that only exists for a year.

In 2017, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf submitted to the Legislature a bill titled The Presidential Transition Act, 2017.

The bill was to establish arrangements for the transfer of administration from one democratically elected president to another democratically elected president.

Dr Ibrahim Nyei also said the Governance Commission was developing a regulatory framework in 2017 but Weah’s government did not follow it up

“This arrangement will set up the framework for a smooth transfer of political powers and governance,” a communication from the President to the House of Representatives dated August 17, 2017, reads.

The communication continues that the bill seeks to build a strong foundation and culture that embraces democratic values for sustainable peace, the management and regulation of the transfer of political power, and other related matters.

President Sirleaf said the act, when passed into law, will continue the path of peaceful resolution, smooth transition of political power and governance, stability, and sustained democratic development.

Fahnbulleh, in an interview with TSM, said the absence of a transition act places the incoming government in uncharted territory.

“Because there is no law, no one feels compelled to give the full information. The incoming government will rely on the goodwill of the outgoing information, it does not bind you and best practices must be truthful in their declaration but no one is compelled,” Fahnbulleh said.

The transition between George Weah and Joseph Boakai

The National Election Commission declared Boakai the winner of the November 14 run-off election.

President Weah, acting within the constitutional framework outlined in Chapter 2, Article 5(c) of the 1986 Constitution of the Republic of Liberia, has invoked his authority to develop protocols and mechanisms ensuring a seamless power transfer. This initiative reflects his commitment to a transparent and efficient handover process.

The constitution required the incumbent administration to “develop a system of appropriate protocols and mechanisms for the smooth transfer of power after every election.”

In addition to the meeting between Weah and Boakai, there has been no public meeting in recent days between outgoing officials and incoming officials.

Both Weah and Boakai named their transition team members to ensure a smooth transition.

What are the recommendations for an orderly transition?

Fahnbulleh suggested dividing the transition teams into three sections: structural issues, justice and the rule of law, and economic and financial health.

He said, “The clusters will tell the incoming administration what the economy is; for example, the ministry of finance should chair that cluster, and the Maritime and National Port Authority can tell what is raised.”

According to Fahnbulleh, the justice cluster will discuss human rights and the dedication to the institutional capabilities of the Liberian Armed Forces, police, and judiciary. This will also include the country’s liability under international law.

Additionally, the former deputy minister named the structural team as the last.   “This will dive into effective administration, specifically looking at the country’s sectors, and this will show the trust of the people in the government.

Mr. Aaron Weah, PhD candidate at Ulster University, United Kingdom, told TSM that an orderly transition means several things. 

According to him, it indicates that “our democracy is maturing, political leaders are beginning to demonstrate more values of patriotism than parochial party interests,  threats of sanction for those who undermine the peace cannot/must not be ignored as a contributing factor, democratic institutions reformed since 2006 (NEC and civil society election monitoring group) are now gaining firm ground, and citizens/electorates are increasingly becoming aware of their rights and the power of their votes. 


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