The Chairperson of the Council of Chiefs and Elders (the Traditional Council), Chief Zanzan Karwor, has termed as disrespectful and out of order the recent comments made by Speaker of the House of Representatives Alex Tyler, accusing President Ellen Sirleaf of attempting to dethrone him from speakership and claiming that his life is threatened.
Speaking at an honoring ceremony held at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, where traditional women had gathered to honor President Sirleaf for her numerous contributions to the development of rural women, Chief Karwor said such an accusation from a high profile government official has the propensity to cause problem in a country that is healing from a decade long civil crisis.
He said the Speaker should have first informed the Traditional Council of his suspicions before going to public with them, as members of the Traditional Council are considered as the owners and fathers and mothers of the land. “We think he is supposed to have told us first before going public. We don’t want things that will make our country look bad to others,” he said.
Chief Karwor, who does not usually mince his words, told the gathering that the Speaker acted out of order and should have done better. “We need to respect each other, especially our President,” he said. “You can’t just come up and be saying all kinds of things that will not look good for the country. It is not good; I’m really vexed with him.”
“When your friends want to remove you and you know it is not fair, come to us so we can intervene. But you can’t go to the ‘chechepolay’ [rumour mongers] and start talking that kind of thing,” he said, adding that the traditional people are angry with Speaker Tyler.
“This is why the Council has been stressing for an upper room where disputes among government officials could be resolved,” he added, “because our (traditional people) intervention would calm things from going out of hand.”
He also said anyone that challenges the President is also challenging the indigenous people of the country.
He called on all branches of government to collaborate with each other so they can do the work of the Liberian people effectively. “We should not be making ‘palava’ among ourselves, which would take us away from the work we need to do,” he stated.
Amidst calls from a section of the House for Speaker Tyler to recuse himself from presiding over House proceedings while an indictment remains in effect for his alleged involvement in a bribery scandal published by corruption watchdog Global Witness, the Speaker turned to President
Sirleaf, accusing her of blackmail, financial inducement and other dictatorial and undemocratic schemes to unseat him. According to him, the President is inducing members of the House through a clandestine financial package to sign a resolution for his removal.
Though he failed to state the amount of the inducement, it is being reported that the President is offering US$20,000 to each lawmaker for Tyler’s dethronement.
Speaker Tyler said the President threatened to withhold the benefits and entitlements and District Project Funds of lawmakers if they failed to have him removed.
But these claims have been rubbished by the Executive Mansion. The Mansion, in a statement, took exception not only to the numerous grave allegations but their timing, released on the day of the visit of the U.S. First Lady, Michelle Obama.
Rejecting all of the Speaker’s claims and calling his actions ‘mere scarecrow tactics’, the Mansion said it was totally shocked that at a time when Mrs. Obama was visiting the country, the sitting Speaker of the 53rd Legislature would make such baseless and unfounded comments.