Can Chief Karwor Resolve Stalemate on Capitol Hill?

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House Speaker J. Alex Tyler along with Deputy Speaker Hans Barchue, presiding officer of the ‘renegade’ members, including top officials, are expected to face-up in the Traditional Palaver Hut in the headquarters of the National Traditional Council of Liberia (NTCL) on 24th Street Sinkor, this morning.

The NTCL, under the leadership of Chief Zanzan Karwor, which statutorily promotes unity, good governance, peace, reconciliation and traditional healing, is expected to host members of the divided Lower House in an attempt to break the stalemate on Capitol Hill.

Chief Karwor announced the convening of the meeting on Tuesday, August 16, after the Council met the two parties, during which a kola nut of peace and reconciliation was extended.

Traditional Council

Legislation has transformed the composition of the traditional council to provide to it elements of democracy, opened up an opportunity for such councils to achieve cooperative governance and have a strong voice in development matters, including entering into partnership and service-delivery agreements with the government.

Many believe that while the country awaits the ruling of the Supreme Court this would be the final bid to break the deadlock in the Lower House.

At the end of today’s meeting, many Liberians are hoping that either Speaker Tyler would recuse himself or the renegade lawmakers would be convinced to go in Chambers to use procedural voting to get Tyler to recuse himself.

Either of the two means that a parallel session will definitely cease and work on the Expenditure Component of the 2016/2017 Fiscal Budget will resume as well as other normal business at the Legislature.

Power of the Legislature

The beginning of the parallel sessions in the Lower House on Thursday August 11 created a stalemate in the Legislature. According to Article 29 of the Constitution, ‘the Legislative power of the Republic shall be vested in the Legislature which shall consist of two separate Houses.’

Parallel Sessions

The emergence of parallel sessions on August 11 saw one group led by Speaker Alex J. Tyler, with the Chief Clerk and the Sergeant-At-Arms in attendance, and the anti-Tyler bloc conducting its own session at the William R. Tolbert Joint Chambers.

Physically, there have been an increasing number of lawmakers present at the Joint Chambers, while the Tyler side has seen a considerable defection of allies.

Tyler is reported to have said that he will not recuse himself or resign as Speaker of the House of Representatives once the call for his recusal or removal is based on what he described as an inducement from President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.

At a news conference last Thursday evening after another occurrence of parallel sessions by members of the House of Representatives, the Speaker maintained that there is no law in the Liberian Constitution or standing rules of the House of Representatives that calls for recusal.

“It is dangerous for our country. Those who claim to be standing on moral grounds are doing the same things they are accusing others of doing. Nobody is going to frighten anyone. We are trying to avoid conflict. All of you know what is obtaining. I know you have to do your job, but that needs to stop,” Speaker Tyler contended.

Government Breakdown

The Daily Observer has observed that the Executive has resolved not to recognize either side owing to letters from the anti-Tyler bloc to the Executive as well as the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning and the Central Bank of Liberia placing a freeze on ‘certain line-items’ on the bank account of the House of Representatives.

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