Divided House Stalls Work at the Legislature

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The scanty attendance of members of the House of Representatives at session yesterday, August 2, after their two-week Independence celebration break, denoted in no uncertain terms the deep divisions among house members over the moral grounds of their leader, Speaker J. Alex Tyler, to remain at the helm of the August body. Nearly half of the lawmakers were absent, among them, those who lately intensified their protest demanding that Speaker Tyler recuse himself after being criminally indicted for allegedly receiving a US$75,000 bribe to amend the Public Procurement Commission Committee (PPCC) law in favor of the London based Sable Mining Company to own the Wologizi Mountain in Lofa County.

Quorum was established with 40 lawmakers in attendance – 34 of them present and six in ‘distance’ (considered present under the House rules). 33 were absent.

For the first time in the 53rd Legislature, yesterday’s agenda was taken up by excuses, specifically from four Representatives, leaving no room for Legislative work to debate, including Call for Petitions, Standing and Special Committees’ Reports, Bills, Resolutions and Business on the Speaker’s desk.

According to the reading of the letters on the agenda of the 48th Day Sitting, Rep. Morias T. Waylee of Grand Gedeh County District #2; Rep. Malia G. Gbogar, Gbarpolu County District #2; and Rep. Alex G. Grant of Grand Gedeh County District #3, requested Plenary to grant them a two-day excuse (August 2 and 4) for various reasons.

For his part, Maryland County District # 2 Representative and Chairman on National Defense, Bhofal Chambers, requested for a two-week extension period from session.

According to unconfirmed reports, the absentee lawmakers had a secret meeting at Rep. Emmanuel Nuquay’s house in continuation of their Monday meeting at Deputy Speaker Hans Barchue’s residence.

Reports said Grand Kru County Representative Numennie Bartekwa was elected Chairman of the Speaker Tyler Recusal Committee, and Nimba and Montserrado county lawmakers Samuel Kogar and Munah Pelham Youngblood were respectively elected co-Chairman and Secretary General.

Meanwhile, the “renegade lawmakers” are still determined to oust Speaker Tyler over what they believe would “cleanse the Legislature.”

Three members of the Congress for Democratic Change (CDC) Thomas Fallah, Acarious Gray and Julius Berrian, on a recent radio talk show, denied media reports that they were seriously considering withdrawing their signatures, while Lofa County Representative Clarence Massaquoi denied signing the resolution to remove Speaker Tyler.

Other members of the “renegade lawmakers,” who asked to remain anonymous, said next week “the days of the Speaker will be numbered.”

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