Speaker No Longer

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Forty-nine (49) lawmakers, comparable to two-thirds of members of the House of Representatives, have affixed their signatures on a ‘resolution’ to unanimously remove Bomi County District # 2 Representative, J. Alex Tyler, Sr., as the Speaker. The decision comes in the aftermath of the row over the criminal indictment against him arising from relating to the controversial Global Witness Report citing bribery and illegally tweaking the law.

The resolution referenced Article 49 of the 1986 Constitution and Rule 9.1 of the House’s Rules and Procedures as the basis for the Speaker’s removal on Tuesday, September 27, during the 8th day extraordinary sitting.
Article 49 of the Constitution says: “The Speaker, the Deputy Speaker and other Officers so elected may be removed from office for cause by resolution of a two-thirds majority of the members of the House” and Rule 9.1 of the House’s Rules and Procedure states: “The Speaker,

Deputy Speaker and other Officers of the House, may be removed from office for cause by a resolution of a two-thirds majority of the member of the House.”

Rep. Tyler served as the Speaker of the House of Representatives from April 7, 2007 to September 27, 2016. He is the second longest serving Speaker, next to the late House Speaker Richard Henries.

Resolution

The resolution said, “Whereas, forty-nine (49) members of the House of Representatives, representing two-thirds (2/3) of the members of the House, have affixed their signatures to the attached document to remove the Speaker; Now therefore, we, the below signed members of the Honorable House of Representatives, have resolved that: Speaker J. Alex Tyler, Sr. is hereby removed as Speaker of the Honorable House of Representatives, 53rd Legislature of the Republic of Liberia… and this resolution takes effect this 27th September 2016.”

Those who signed the resolution included: Reps. Tokpah Mulbah, Prince Moye, George Mulbah, Edward Karfiah, Corpu Barclay, Alfred Koiwood, Gertrude Lamin, Hans Barchue, Mary Karwor, Gabriel Smith, J. Byron Brown, Robertson Siaway, Marais Waylee, Numene Bartekwa and Eugene F. Kparkar.

Others were Reps. Julia Wiah, Roland Cooper, Ballah Zayzay, Stephen Kafi, Emmanuel Nuquay, Isaac Roland, Josephine M. Francis, Bill Tweahway, Henry Fahnbulleh, Thomas Fallah, Edwin Snowe, Solomon George, Acarous Gray, Munah Youngblood, Julius Berrian and Gabriel Nyenka.

The remaining lawmakers included Richmond Anderson, Saah Joseph, Adolph Lawrence, Edward Forh, Jeremiah Koung, Prince Tokpa, Samuel Worleh, Garrisue Yealue, Samuel Kogar, Ricks Toweh, Worlea S. Dunah, Richard M. Tingban, Johnson Chea, Christian Chea, Charles Bardyl, Byron Zahweah, Jefferson Kanmoh and Jeremiah Mccauley.

Recusal

It may be recalled that Speaker Tyler recused himself 24 days ago, owing to a group of lawmakers demand that he recused himself due to an ongoing indictment against him for bribery.

Announcing what many will see as the ultimate decision, recusing himself as Presiding Officer of the House of Representatives, the then Speaker disclosed that the pressure by his colleagues was more than just an indictment, saying President Sirleaf had told many stakeholders including members of the Bomi County Legislative caucus that she could no longer do business with him.

Tyler said the President accused him of undermining Liberia’s development agenda by refusing to pass certain legislations such as financing agreements.

“The situation has now taken on a new dimension in which we were informed by the Bomi Legislative Caucus following their visit to the President, and later on some colleagues of mine who met with her as well as some prominent members of the society who also interacted with her, that the Chief Executive has accused me of undermining the country’s development agenda by refusing to pass certain legislations such as financing agreements,” Tyler said in a statement.

Tyler said: “At those meetings she stated that she wants me removed as Speaker on grounds that she cannot work with me any longer and asked them to convey same to me and this was directly communicated.”

Legislative independence

Tyler said further that the Legislature, as the first branch of government, is entrusted with the responsibility of independently scrutinizing all bills, financial agreements (loans, protocols, conventions, agreements, etc) that are presented to it for consideration and passage where necessary and as such for over ten years, under his leadership the body has passed key legislations.

Ratification of these legislations, he said, has been done in the best interest of the country and furthermore, those not suitable were rejected in the interest of the country.

“For over ten years, when we ratified several agreements and passed key legislations, we did so in the best interest of the country. Equally so, when we deemed certain legislations not suitable for the country, the necessary interventions were made and in some cases, we painstakingly rejected them. It is unfortunate and regrettable that the President would now see our latter action as being uncooperative and undermining her agenda,” he stated.

“We believe that to do otherwise will brand us as compromising our constitutional mandate. Let it be emphasized that the Legislature should always maintain its independence and uphold its constitutionally assigned duties and responsibilities now and in the future,” he said.

Wisdom of Solomon

Tyler construed his struggle with the President as a battle for control of the Legislature. He further likened the struggle to a dispute between two women (Tyler and President Sirleaf) over a baby (the House of Representatives), as told in a Biblical account depicting the wisdom of

King Solomon.

“As a God fearing man,” Tyler explained, “I am constantly reminded of the Biblical teaching of King Solomon relating to the status of the baby in determining the true biological mother, with one preferring the splitting of the baby in half, while the other pleaded that the baby be spared. There, King Solomon came to the conclusion of knowing who the true mother of the baby was.”

Tyler, then the embattled Speaker, sought the intervention of the Supreme Court Justice-in-Chambers, Jamesetta Wolokollie, who he felt would judge the matter according to the wisdom of King Solomon, to keep a polarized House of Representatives from meeting separately.

But by then, the “splitting of the baby” was already done and it would be only a matter of time that Tyler – the “true mother” – would agree to step aside as Presiding Officer and subsequently as Speaker.

Dead on arrival

In the Biblical account, however, the “true mother” did not wait for her baby to be split. Instead, and in contrast to the one opting to split the baby, she pleaded with the king so that the baby might live. Receiving the matter, Justice Wolokollie, herself being no King Solomon, saw that the House was already split – the “baby” dead on arrival – and sent the matter back to the House to resolve by itself. Thus continued the downward spiral of Tyler’s Speakership, one opprobrious moment after another, until now.

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