About 17 traditional chiefs, including Head Chief Zanzan Karwor, representing the National Traditional Council of Liberia (NTCL), have agreed to meet President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf over her alleged role in the drive to dethrone Speaker J. Alex Tyler, Sr. The Speaker has lately become obstinate, pulling no punches in accusing the President for being the chief architect of his recusal.
The Chiefs made the decision to ascertain the “truth” from the President on Friday, following an exhaustive meeting after explanations from Pro-Tyler Lawmakers, as well as “audio recordings, human witnesses and evidences” implicating the President as the alleged mastermind and financier of the internal wrangling in the Lower House over the Speaker’s recusal.
Anti-Tyler Lawmakers, headed by Deputy Speaker Hans M. Barchue, who is also the Presiding Officer for the ‘Renegade Session’, as well as the Chairman and Secretary General of the Speaker’s Recusal Committee, Rep. Numennie Bartekwa and Rep. Munah Pelham-Youngblood, were in attendance.
In Friday’s meeting, the Pro-Tyler Lawmakers were led by Speaker J. Alex Tyler Sr., with Rep. Moses Kollie, Rep. Dr. Bhofal Chambers, Rep. George Wesseh Blamoh and Rep. Haja Siryon in attendance.
The argument over ‘morality,’ resulting from the criminal indictment of the Speaker, by the Anti-Tyler Lawmakers for him to recuse himself, was not prioritized by the Chiefs.
Chief Karwor afterwards told scores of journalists at their 24th Street Sinkor office that they would meet the President between Friday to Monday, either at her Foreign Affairs office or at their headquarters.
The Traditional Chairman also announced that the Council would also write the Supreme Court to withdraw the case, to allow them to settle the dispute in their Traditional Hub.
“We will be meeting our ma, the President, about what we all talked here and what they say she did… we will go there to her or we will be happy if she comes here for us to talk,” Chief Karwor said. “We will write a letter to the Supreme Court to take the case and bring it here for us to talk about it.”
He added: “We will meet here again for another talk.”
It has been suggested that Pro-Tyler or Anti-Tyler Lawmakers would meet at the Traditional Council office on either Tuesday or Wednesday.
It may be recalled that following over seven weeks of in-house hullabaloo (noise) on the recusal of the Speaker – a resolution surfaced for the Speaker’s recusal signed by 39 lawmakers, who began holding parallel sessions.
After two successive parallel sessions in the Joint Chambers by the renegade lawmakers, Speaker Tyler, on August 12 at about 2:26 pm, filed a petition at the Supreme Court to prohibit the lawmakers from presiding in separate sessions.
The petition was filed under the title: J. Alex Tyler, Speaker of the House of Representatives, petitioner, versus some members of the House of Representatives led by Deputy Speaker, Hans Barchue; Numennie T. H. Bartekwa, Chairman; Munah E. Pelham-Youngblood, Secretary.
In the Writ of Prohibition, petitioner Speaker Tyler prayed that the Supreme Court order the respondents, as members of the House of Representatives, to return to the Chambers of the House of Representatives designated for the conduct of all legislative matters under his authority.
Supreme Court calls for conference
In case the Chiefs’ letter of withdrawal does not go in time, Supreme Court Associate Justice-in- Chambers Jamesetta Howard Wolokollie will meet the renegade lawmakers today, Monday, August 22, at 12:00 noon. Speaker Tyler, in Thursday’s session, said would be represented by their lawyer(s).
A letter from the office of the Clerk of the Supreme Court, Martha Henries Bryant, dated August 18, addressed to Hans Barchue, Deputy Speaker, Numennie Bartekwa, Chairman, Munah Pelham Youngblood, Secretary, and members of the House of Representatives, requested for a meeting in the Joint Chambers of the National Legislature at the Capitol Building.
The letter reads: “By directive of her honor Jamesetta Howard Wolokollie, Associate Presiding in Chambers, you and members of the Honorable House of Representatives convening in the Joint Chambers of the National Legislature are hereby cited to a conference with her honor on Monday, August 22, at 12:00 in connection with the case J. Alex Tyler, Speaker of the House of Representatives, versus lawmakers of the Majority Bloc.”
The legal composition of traditional councils across Africa is to “speak truth to find resolution” in governance, most especially in countries which have experienced long history of civil wars and dictatorships.
A chief, who begged not to be identified, told the Daily Observer that “if we speak the truth, even though it will hurt, the noise in the Legislature will stop.”
He said the “truth” could always solve the political crisis of governance and would uphold the integrity of the Traditional Council. “We are responsible to sustain the peace and give political stability,” the Chief said.
In the Unity Party’s recent public announcement calling for a new Speaker; the alleged letter from the President recognizing renegade lawmakers; as well as the appearance of Information Minister Eugene Nagbe (who is also UP’s Secretary General) in the parallel session, the Executive
Mansion recalled or withdrew the letter because of a clerical error involving the addressee, reference number, and a typo.
Yet, many Liberians do not doubt that the letter in fact originated from the President’s office.
Late Thursday, the Executive Mansion issued a statement recalling the letter and promised non-interference in Legislative politics:
“The Executive Mansion has responded to a communication dated August 11, 2016 from Dep. Speaker Hans Barchue with an attached Resolution taken by Majority of the House of Representatives.”
Added the Executive Mansion, “Notwithstanding, due to clerical error involving the addressee, reference number, and one typo – the communication was recalled.”
It added: “Further action on this matter will be taken after decision by the Supreme Court on the matter.”
The Executive has vowed to honor and commit to every lawful and constitutional act by the House of Representatives.