Unless Speaker J. Alex Tyler, Sr. has a powerful masterstroke left up his sleeve, his fight to remain the Presiding Officer of the House of Representatives in the 53rd Legislature might be all but over. On Tuesday, August 23, separate reports from the Executive, the Judiciary and the
Traditional Chiefs seemed to corner the Speaker to either yield or literally perform a miracle to stay presiding.
The three reports are politically enough to coerce the Speaker to recuse (step-aside) to avoid what is described as an embarrassing problem. But the sole and reliable report from Senators – if they remain faithful to him, he would still as speaker at the 5th Session on Tuesday, August 30.
Speaker Tyler has already made his history as the second longest-serving Speaker of the Bicameral Legislature – second in succession to the President, from April 6, 2007; and also has sustained a lengthy in-house fight.
Supreme Court’s Rule
Meanwhile, Speaker Tyler’s quest to reunify a divided House of Representatives gradually disappeared when the Judiciary, to which he had gone to seek legal backing to avoid recusing himself, gave way.
Tyler had petitioned the Supreme Court’s intervention to prevent those lawmakers demanding that he recuse himself from presiding over legislative activities, from holding separate sessions. However, Justice Wolokollie refused to accept.
Her decision could have been prompted by the argument by Cllr. Arthur Johnson, Deputy Speaker Hans Barchue’s lawyer, that the issue was political and therefore did not pose any constitutional violation, which Cllr. Johnson said, would have given the Associate Justice the legal right to intervene.
Given her decision, resolving Tyler’s recusal now rests with the lawmakers themselves.
The House Plenary could use the two-thirds majority vote as provided under the 1986 Constitution, if Tyler insists that he would not step-down as the Barchue-led block has demanded.
Chiefs Advise Tyler to Stepdown
On the same Tuesday, in a third meeting at the headquarters of the National Traditional Council of Liberia (NTCL), Chief Zanzan Karwor urged Tyler to recuse himself for the sake of the country. Interestingly, neither Tyler nor his loyalists were in attendance. (The Pro-Tyler lawmakers were in full attendance during the first and second meetings, while the Deputy Speaker attended the first and the third).
Chief Karwor said the Speaker’s allegation that the President used money to induce his colleagues to compel him to recuse himself is false and cannot be proven as with the case with the removal of former Speaker Edwin M. Snowe in 2007, when he (Tyler) was also accused of dishing-out money from the President to finance Snowe’s dethronement.
“The same rope that hangs baboon is hanging money,” Chief Karwor said.
He warned the Speaker against making threats of war and said Bomi County citizens should not be the financiers of war, as it was said that President Sirleaf (also from Bomi) partially funded the 1989 civil war.
“We are tired of war… we can stay here if war comes and we know some of you got another home out of the country,” the Chief said.
Some political actors commented that the Chief’s response isn’t surprising, citing his wife’s (Representative Mary Karwor) public assertion of refusing to listen to him if he asked her to support Tyler. Chief Karwor was also criticized for his failure to mediate on the sacking of the leadership of the health workers in 2014.
Tyler has yet to decide whether he should continue with the fight even after the Supreme Court’s decision, or do the honorable thing to step-down as the Traditional Council and others are asking him to do, for the sake of the country.
Despite the President’s letter recognizing the Deputy Speaker and his fellow ‘renegade’ lawmakers, as well as the Supreme Court’s refusal to issue a Writ of Prohibition against the ‘renegade’ session, the Speaker still supervised a session on Tuesday.
The Senate, in recognition of the Speaker’s legitimacy, wrote two letters notifying the House‘s Plenary in Chambers about the concurrence of two laws: The Act to compel all companies to establish offices in the capital cities of the operating counties and two financing agreements.
Foreign Minister Marjon V. Kamara informed the House’s Plenary about the funeral arrangements of Colonel Eric Wamu Dennis, I, Deputy Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL).
In the wake of the foregoing, Speaker is expected to have a press conference today, the Daily Observer has learnt. The outcome of today’s press conference will put to rest the noises on Capitol Hill, an observer said.