The House of Representatives has concurred with the Senate on a proposed legislation seeking to deny the Executive Governor and all members of the Board of Governors of the CBL from electoral process.
The Senate last week unanimously acted on the bill to amend certain Provisions of the Act authorizing the Establishment of the CBL on March 18, 1989 and transmitted it to the House for concurrence.
In the House’s Tuesday, February 18, session the issue was introduced for discussion, presided over by House Speaker, J. Alex Tyler. The discussion forced mixed reactions from lawmakers leading to a vote. Thirty-seven (37) representatives voted to concur with the Senate’s chambers while seven registered their disapproval.
Immediately after the votes were announced by the secretariat, Montserrado County District #13 Representative Saah H. Joseph filed a “Motion for Reconsideration,” a legislative intent that gives rights to lawmakers who disagreed with the proceeding to reopen the discussion in the near future; provided the motion to vote on the issue did not request for trialing and testing the Reconciliation Motion immediately.
Unfortunately, Rep. Joseph’s motion was trialed, tested and defeated on the floor by 32 members, leaving the Legislature with no alternative, but to transmit the proposed legislation to the President for concurrence and subsequently to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to be printed into handbill.
However, Montserrado County Rep. Julius Berrian, who voted against the passage, was quick to register his disappointment in his colleagues’ action, adding that “normal legislative proceeding was not accorded the bill before its passage.”
He failed to either confirm nor deny reports that he was one of several lawmakers who received a US$25,000 envelope from the CBL to send the bill to the Committee on Banking and Currency.
Berrian is, according to his legislative profile, Chair of the Committee on Banking and Currency and a banker by profession; he is also a member of the Committee on Internal Affairs.
Responding to reporters, Berrian said he had no idea about such a report, but was heard arguing with a Capitol Building staffer identified as 'Varney', who shouted from the press gallery, “Julius Berrian, I’m disappointed in you. You betrayed the struggle and I will tell Governor Mills Jones. Why didn’t you do the work you were asked to do?”
The news from Capitol Hill of the House's concurrence came as a surprise to several youth and student organizations including the Liberian National Student Union (LINSU), which were present in defense of the CBL and Governor Jones.
Update: Governor Jones has dismissed the brown envelope allegation as "trite talk".
Nevertheless, the attention of these groups and the CBL is now directed to President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf to either veto or concur with the Legislature.
“Some of the advocacy groups have threatened court action while others believe continued public sentiments against the lawmakers’ action bodes well for their struggle,” a political commentator told the Daily Observer.
According to Section III, Part IV: Administration and Management, sub-section 17 (5) of the bill: “The Executive Governor of the Central Bank of Liberia and members of the Board of Governors shall be prohibited (from contesting) political office(s) while serving in their respective offices and shall not be qualified to contest any electable office within three years consecutively after the expiration of their tenure and in his/her resignation from the Central Bank of Liberia.”
The Legislature also gave lawmakers the power to determine whether or not an impeachment offense has been committed by the Executive Governor or other members under the proposed act.