President Not Ready for Plenary

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President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf yesterday asked a second excuse from lawmakers as she declined to honor a planned meeting with the leadership of the House of Representatives. She was due to hold discussion with at least 38 members of the House including the committee on Education as well as the Speaker and Deputy Speaker on the future of Liberia’s education system.

Initially, the Liberian leader was summoned by the House last week to answer to a constitutional contempt charge, which she again declined to honor, prompting a new letter from her office calling for consultation on Monday, July 6.

According to the chairman of House Committee on Executive, Grand Kru County Representative George Wesseh Blamoh, the President also communicated on Monday, informing the House of her inability to appear at the Capitol to begin the consultation on the way forward about the education sector.

In an interview with the Daily Observer, Rep. Blamoh named the presence of the visiting Dutch delegation to Liberia as the main reason behind her latest decision to reschedule her appearance.

“The President informed us that she has international guests,” he said, “and as such, she will not be available for the meeting this week. She requested that we hold the discussion next week, but said she has instructed her Minister of Information to make a public announcement informing the public that school will not be closed this July as is being speculated.”

The House welcomes the President’s excuse, Blamoh maintained, noting that the acceptance was in the spirit of national unity.

What action will the House take if the Information Minister refuses to make said pronouncement, Blamoh asserted, “it is left to him and his boss Johnson Sirleaf on how to address these issues.”

The date and time of the rescheduled meeting was not disclosed, but a legislative insider suggests that the President might simply be buying time. “She is not prepared to defend her policy” on the education sector, the source said. According to the source, the Legislature gave her the benefit of the doubt by accepting her request for a meeting with the House leadership instead of full plenary.

Constitutionally, decisions taken in meetings with the House leadership are not binding unless they meet the consent of plenary, which is the highest decision making body. Therefore, the expected consultative meetings between the President and the House leadership might remain just what they are — consultations — nothing concrete.

Meanwhile, the Senate has named September 30, 2015 as the new school closure date.

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