‘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.