Ambassador Farid Zarif Special Representative of the United Nations (UN) Secretary General in Liberia
As members of the House of Representatives remain divided over attempts to remove Speaker Alex Tyler with several lawmakers refusing to show up for work, Ambassador Farid Zarif, Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary General in Liberia, on Saturday urged Liberians to hold public officials accountable.
Ambassador Zarif’s statement did not, however, mention the ongoing rift among lawmakers of the House of Representatives.
Speaking at the second commencement convocation of St. Clements University College, Ambassador Zarif informed his audience that “public officials are paid by taxpayer’s money and you must demand that they account for whatever they might have received, because they are obligated to perform that task for which they are being paid.”
Ambassador Zarif’s statement comes at a time when some members of the House of Representatives have reached a decision to reprimand those they consider as “long-absent representatives,” in accordance with the House Rules and Procedures.
The graduation ceremony was held at the Central Philadelphia Church in oldest Congo Town with about 40 students receiving Associate Degrees (AA) in development studies, petroleum engineering, banking and finance, among other disciplines.
The UN special representative reminded his audience, “It’s your right and you must demand it from those public officials who want to look down upon you. They are your servants and their performance must be commensurate with their salary.”
He encouraged the graduates to remain committed and use the skills and knowledge acquired to become agents of positive change and role models in the society.
Ambassador Zarif’s statement reflected Nimba County District # 8 Representative, Larry Younquoi’s complaint during a session in the House that some of his colleagues were receiving salaries and benefits and were not reporting for work.
Rep. Younquoi’s letter calling for drastic action against those absent lawmakers was approved by Plenary, the highest decision making body of the House of Representatives.
The lawmaker argued that his colleagues’ continuous absence from plenary and committee meetings were threatening to stall their work to improve the lives of the people and the country.
Rep. Younquoi said the appropriate action would ensure a reversal of such a trend by the delinquent lawmakers, and compel then to do what is expected of them.
Rule 21.1 of the House Rules and Procedures says: “No House member shall stay away from sessions without expressed approval of the House for a period of more than two weeks; for a period less than two weeks, permission may be sought from the Speaker. Violations shall be penalized in a manner deemed appropriate by the leadership of the House in consultation with plenary.”
Article 38 of the Constitution states, “Each House shall adopt its own rules of procedures, enforce order, and with the concurrence of two-thirds of the entire membership, may expel a member for cause… All rules adopted by the Legislature shall conform to the requirements of due process of law laid down in this constitution
Some of the Representatives who could suffer penalty for long-absences include Dep. Speaker Hans Barchue, Representatives Emmanuel Nuquay, Josephine Francis, Tokpa Mulbah, Adolph Lawrence, Eugene Fallah Kparkar, Thomas Fallah, Bill Tweahway and Henry Fahnbulleh.