Split Sessions at Capitol

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Tyler & Barchue.jpg

An unprecedented three separate and distinct sessions were yesterday held simultaneously in the 68 year old Capitol Building (at the Legislature) with two at the Lower House and one in the Upper House with the presence of over 400 elite officers of the Liberia National Police.

Compelling Recusal of Speaker Tyler?

Thirty eight (38) members of the House of Representatives (34 present and four distance), who are referred to as “Renegade or Conscious Lawmakers” have unanimously adopted a resolution to remove Rep. Alex J. Tyler, Sr., as Speaker or Presiding Officer of the Legislature.

The defector lawmakers, in an outlawed separate session in the William R. Tolbert Joint Chambers, which was presided over by Deputy Speaker Hans Barchue, made the decision yesterday due to a resolution signed by 40 members of the House of Representatives. However, three of them, including Saah Joseph, Samuel Woleh and Morais Waylee, claimed that they withdrew their signatures.

The “conscious Lawmakers”, in search of a place to hold their session, proceeded to the Joint Chamber, which they found locked. The sergeant-at-arms, believed to be a Tyler sympathizer, was unavailable to provide access to the Joint Chamber. It was then that former Speaker, Edwin M. Snowe, Jr. ordered the door busted, according to eyewitnesses, which was performed by a staffer of Deputy Speaker Hans Barchue.

The anti-Tyler lawmakers suspended the House’s Rules and Procedures on the Motion for Reconsideration as well as the Normal Legislative Procedural process of the Committee’s work to effect the decision to recuse Speaker Tyler.

The lawmakers also appointed an ad hoc Chief Clerk and Deputy Chief, Rudolph Hill and Darlington Blayon, staffers of the Deputy Speaker.

In the resolution, the lawmakers said the Speaker has denigrated his colleagues who have expressed disagreement with his dictatorial leadership and refers to elected Representatives of the Liberian people as surrogates, forgetting that he is just ‘primus inter pares’ (first among equals) by the free election of his peers.

“Whereas, that the Speaker has been criminally indicted of a crime. We the members of the House should not have to bear the burden of these allegations. Let the Speaker exonerate himself of these criminal charges using our court system and not hide under the authority of the Speaker’s gavel,” the Interim Chief Clerk read.

“Whereas and in so declaring, we, the majority members of the Honorable House of Representatives of the 53rd Legislature having taken a solemn oath of office to protect and uphold the constitution and all other laws of the Republic call upon Hon. J. Alex Tyler to immediately recuse himself as presiding officer.”

The Interim Chief Clerk added: “Whereas we also call on those doing business and other activities with him to immediately halt and refrain from future transaction with him in the name of the Honorable House of Representatives including the Liberian Senate, the Executive and Judiciary Branches of Government and the Special Representative of the Secretary General of the United Nations Mission.”

Those who signed the resolution included: Rep. Numene T.H. Bartekwa, Rep. Emmanuel Nuquay, Rep. Munah E. Pelham-Youngblood, Rep. Samuel G. Kogar, Rep. Thomas P. Fallah, Rep. Acarous M. Gray, Rep. Edwin M. Snowe, Rep. Julius Berrian, Rep. Morais T. Waylee and Rep. Samuel G. Wolleh.

Others are Rep. Richmond S. Anderson, Rep. Corpu G. Barclay, Rep. Adolph A. Lawrence, Rep. Christian Chea, Rep. Johnson Chea, Rep. Saah Joseph, Rep. Roland O. Cooper, Rep. Worlea S. Dunah, Rep. Henry B. Fahnbulleh, Rep. Edward S. Forh, Rep. Josephine George Francis,
Rep. Stephen S. Kafi, Jr., Rep. Jefferson Kanmoh, Rep. Edward W. Karfia, Rep. Mary Karwor, Rep. Jeremiah Koung, Rep. Eugene F. Kparkar and Rep. Gertrude T. Lamin.

The remaining lawmakers are Rep. Jeremiah W. McCauley, Rep. Prince Moye, Rep. George S. Mulbah, Rep. Tokpah Mulbah, Rep. Robertson N. Siaway, Rep. Gabriel Smith, Rep. Richard M. Tingban, Rep. Ricks Toweh, Rep. Bill Twehway, Rep. Ballah G. Zayzay, Rep. J. Byron Brown and Rep. J. Gabriel Nyenkan.

Meanwhile and simultaneously, the 51st day sitting under House’s Speaker J. Alex Tyler, Sr., in the House’s official chambers, ended successfully with the appearance of Public Work Minister Gyude Moore, summoned to update the lower house on the progress of the Somalia Drive Road.

Speaker Tyler conducted yesterday’s session with a quorum of 37 persons; 34 in person and three in distance.

Prior to the Public Work Minister’s appearance, the House’s Plenary summoned the management of the Liberia Broadcasting System (LBS) to appear on Tuesday, 16 August. The decision was predicated upon a complaint from Hon. Larry P. Younquoi of Electoral District 8, Nimba County.

In his letter, the Nimba Lawmaker questioned the refusal of the Liberia Broadcasting System to honor a request from the House Press and Public Affairs Bureau to provide live broadcast coverage to the on-going public hearing on the Draft National Budget at the Capitol Building.

Following discussions on the matter, plenary agreed to invite the management of LBS to appear next Tuesday to give reasons for the entity’s action predicated on a motion proffered by Hon. Isaac Roland of Electoral District 3, Maryland County.

Pro-Tyler’s Reaction

The chairman of the House committee on Foreign Affairs, Maryland County District # 1 Representative, Rep. James Biney, has accused President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf of sponsoring the recusal campaign to unseat Speaker Tyler, over an unbearable working relationship with him.

“If the precedence of getting the leader of one branch removed on the basis of indictment (not court verdict) through subterfuge, the tendency of the Executive controlling the Legislature will be further enhanced at the time when it should be broken,” Rep. Biney said

“This is not good for any emerging democracy. When a leader of a country says, I will never work with the head of the legislative branch of government and the leader succeeds in removing the head of that branch of government, such a leader cannot be a true representation of genuine democracy. As we proceed to protect our democracy, it is quintessential that we accept to work with each other as leaders not because we want to, but because we have to,” Rep. Biney added.

He added: “On the issue of the fight against corruption, I call on President Sirleaf to also go after those who wrecked NOCAL, squandered the Japanese Aid to Liberia, mismanaged Chevron Social Development Support to Liberia, etc. The contrary would suggest to the public and the world that the fight against corruption is not only selective, but a sham. Finally, we leaders, especially President Sirleaf, have the responsibility to enhance the peace and protect our democracy.”

However, two senior staff members to the Speaker, who begged for anonymity, said the Speaker and his colleagues have termed the renegade lawmakers’ decision as “trash.”

They further said the pro-Tyler lawmakers are considering going to the Supreme Court, but they did not say why or when.

Speaker Tyler’s compelling recusal is due to his alleged accusation of receiving US$75,000, according to the May 11 Global Witness report, for his alleged role in changing the Public Procurement Commission Committee (PPCC) law in favor of the London based Sable Mining Company to win a concession agreement to exploit iron ore in the Wologisi Mountain in Lofa County.

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