Speaker Chambers Survives Ouster Attempts?

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Rep. Bhofal Chambers still remains Speaker of the House of Representatives of the 54th Legislature

‘Rebellious lawmakers’ under threat as of Friday’s Special Session

As of Friday, September 7, 38 lawmakers had already affixed their signatures, with eleven more to acquire a majority vote, to unseat Maryland County District #2 Representative Bhofal Chambers as Speaker of the 54th Legislature. As his fate remained hanging in the balance, Montserrado County District #7 Representative Acarous M. Gray’s announcement of what he called a failed coup attempt against the Speaker has since gone viral on Facebook, a social media platform.

Representative Gray declared that Chambers remains the Speaker of the House of Representatives of the 54th Legislature, and in a strongly worded statement decried attempts by his colleagues, claiming that they are “on the run” (meaning: they are escaping from being punished), after opting for the removal of the Speaker.

“Battles are meant for men,” Representative  Gray declared on his Facebook page.

Gray’s announcement came after an executive meeting on Friday, September 7, which sources said was intended for Speaker Bhofal Chambers to make amends with his colleagues in order to  abort threats of impeachment of Associate Justice Kabineh M. Ja’neh.

The Daily Observer gathered that, on Friday, members of the Lower House convened to, among other things, discuss and allot appropriate funds for the Annual Break (September 16, 2018 – January 14, 2019), but the session was disrupted by Speaker Chambers’ loyalists, who were incensed by threats to oust the Speaker.

An irritated lawmaker (name withheld), allegedly quoted Representative Gray as saying: “There will be no money as long as you want to remove the Speaker.”

But Gray’s statement appeared to have incensed his colleagues and provoked scathing outbursts from them against the Speaker.

“Your can keep your money, we are not small children here to be threatened,” the lawmaker also quoted Representative Beyan Howard as telling his colleagues.

“If we do not want him, we have nothing to lose, but the struggle for his removal remains,” Representative Howard said.

Representative Gonpu Kangon (Nimba County #4) said, “We still have our Bazooka in our hands.” Bazooka is the common name for a man-portable recoil-less anti-tank rocket launcher.

“We know our plan is gaining steam and causing panic, but we know we will get the remaining 11 signatures to remove the lame-duck Speakership,” a source said, quoting Representative Hanson Kiazolu.

At least 30 lawmakers were seen on Friday in scattered pockets, discussing amongst themselves when Nimba County District #5 Representative Samuel Kogar informed journalists that “the alleged coup had failed.”

“If some of us are not part of certain things, it wouldn’t work in here… like me, Representatives Edwin Snowe, Thomas Fallah, Acarous Gray, Edward Karfiah,” he said.

Thursday’s hard jokes

Prior to Friday’s Special Session, there were jokes among members of the House of Representatives,  notably between Representatives Snowe and Gray.

Gray loudly told Snowe that because he was dethroned from speakership in about year, they too cannot be removed. But Snowe is reported to have told him in return that they are aware that President George Weah wants Speaker Bhofal Chambers to be ousted.

Montserrado District # 7 Representative Solomon George interrupted the jokes, debunking Snowe’s statement. He said the President is yet to comment on what is going on at Capitol Hill, and that “even if the President wants Speaker Chambers removed, he will defer to the President on a number of issues.”

Furtherance to the jokes, Rep. George started calling names of people, who jokingly want to become Speaker, including Rep. Snowe and Rep. J. Fonati Koffa.

 Sloh’s birthday party turned to meeting

The Daily Observer has also gathered that the birthday celebration of Representative Jay Nagbe Sloh of District # 2, Sinoe County, on Sunday, September 9, 2018, turned into a meeting where about 40 lawmakers in attendance vowed to maintain their stance to ensure that the Speaker is removed.

About 35 of the 40 lawmakers, who were in attendance, were new lawmakers (political freshman).

“The battle lines have been drawn, we will not rest until the inept Speaker is ousted,” the source told the Daily Observer.

 Fourth Shakeup on Capitol Hill

Since the inception of President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf’s government in 2006, the number of shake-up attempts has increased  as compared to previous years.

Former Speaker Edwin M. Snowe was the first to be axed. His leadership lasted for about 14 months (January 2006 – February 2007). He honorably resigned after he lost the numbers.

His successor, former Speaker Alex Tyler, served from April 2007 – October 2016. He was removed under controversial circumstances. And then came Speaker J. Emmanuel Nuquay. Speaker Nuquay served from October 2016 to January 15, 2018.

On the other side of the Legislative divide, the Liberian Senate has since experienced one shake-up, in which Sen. Isaac W. Nyenabo was removed, having served as Senate Pro-Tempore from January 2006 – March 2009.

The dethronement of Speaker Chambers would have been the fourth coup in 14 years in the Legislature, and the first under President George Weah.

5 COMMENTS

  1. The President of Liberia has nothing to say in Legislative matters until functionally enacted or invited by provisions of the Liberian constitution. When it is time to execute the law the executive will be ready. Run the vote before the Nation’s leader steps in. It looks like some lawmakers cannot defend their election status without party or Presidential influence. The execution of the law did not elect you to office. It is the people in your counties who put you in as legislators. Handle your own legislation or rules in house and decide without executive branch land marks. This is the reason why we say the Liberian people will sifter them out by voting them out. Some cannot stand alone because some do not even know how they got in. Do not answer me. Tell Liberians.

  2. So be it, the speaker too must be impeach for corruption. He has proven his inability to be a leader with those criminal involvements over the past years.

  3. I suspect these lawmakers want to remove the speaker to protect Justice Jan’eh from impeachment. The corruption in the country has reached very dangerous proportions. The country is governed by some very unsavory characters and it will only get worse. The government is very unstable.

  4. One thing I do know, even under U.S, history of jurisprudence is that there’s no precedent for the withdrawal of the Article of Impeachment by a subsequent House leadership once the House has already completed its role in the proceedings. The Senate has already received the Article of Impeachment from the House and must conduct the trial, regardless of what happens in the House leadership. There’s no provision in the Constitution for the new leadership to withdraw the Bill and the House can still sent its Managers to the hearings at the Senate’s. Unless of course a new leadership and the Senate Chamber follow the Liberian version of Constitutional jurisprudence that is void of compliance with the constitution.

    I believe there needs to be a much more stringent vetting process for confirming a Justice to the Supreme Court than what I read of the most recent confirmed Justice, Nagbe. There should be questions posed to the nominee on how she or she interprets the constitution concerning major issues that affect the citizenry and the nation’s national interest on human rights, citizen rights, property rights, the right to sue ones government, civilian rule over the Armed Forces and other securities forces.

    From what I’ve read of individual rights, it’s inexcusable to have individuals indicted and imprisoned for significant period, and no trial has taken place, and the courts remained silent. That is a clear violation of human rights. These individuals are already being declared guilty without any due process of law. And to think that anyone would suggest such a mediocre judicial system is prepared to adjudicate charges of war crimes would be laughable, if this was not such a serious issue. So, if removing the House Speaker is geared towards protecting a Judge from being held accountable, I would admonish every conscientious Representative to vote against removing the Speaker. You can remove him for other valid reasons, but don’t do it to undermine this impeachment proceedings.

    As such, I suggest to the House to implement an internal policy that would require them to vote at the beginning of every session, the Speaker for the House. This would impose self discipline on the members to try to reconcile their differences in a more deliberative manner than fist fights that borders on decadence and moral turpitude.

    The President needs to quickly take over his administration by isolating individuals in his administration that are clearly demonstrating personal interests over national interest. Without that, the nation becomes a laughing stock to the international community which comprises of potential investors and those interested in the wellbeing of the nation. I don’t know when the next legislative election will take place, but that would be the time for the citizenry to hold itself accountable in terms of who each person choses to vote for.

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