The ruling Unity Party has finally come out from the cold and is supporting attempts by ‘renegade’ lawmakers to get Speaker J. Alex Tyler Sr. out as Speaker of the House of Representatives.
The UP is now calling on Tyler to recuse himself from the speakership because he has lost the confidence of his colleagues.
A statement issued under the signature of its Secretary General, Information Minister Eugene Nagbe, and approved by National Chairman Wilmot Paye, said the continuous bickering in the House has negative implications for the 2017 presidential elections.
“We have come to the recognition that the situation in the House of Representatives is undermining the implementation of the National Development Agenda of the country with about sixteen months left before the end of the Party’s tenure.
“The Unity Party therefore avers that Speaker Alex Tyler has lost legitimacy, the confidence of his colleagues and the public’s trust and therefore supports a leadership change in the House of Representatives,” the statement said.
In other words, the Unity Party is saying that it supports members of the House who have insisted that because of Tyler’s indictment in the Global Witness bribery scandal, he (Tyler) can no longer be trusted as Liberia’s third in succession, after President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and Vice President Joseph Boakai.
The Unity Party’s position, the release said, is based on several rounds of consultations with national stakeholders, party executives and Unity Party legislators in the House of Representatives.
“Unlike positions taken by other political parties which were motivated largely by sentiments and other narrow considerations, the Unity Party recognizes that precious and valuable time and resources are being wasted and or misdirected while critical governance issues are left unattended,” the statement said.
The Unity Party’s statement said with such “irrefutable loss of confidence in the leadership of the Speaker by his fellow members, we have no iota of doubt that a new leadership will work to restore public confidence and thereby normalize legislative functions.”
The Unity Party meanwhile mandated all its members in the House of Representatives to place national interest above individual, sectional and ‘block’ interest by adhering to the tenets of democratic good governance and support the party’s position in the current impasse in the House.
The Unity Party’s decision to call on Speaker Tyler to be replaced could be seen by the embattled speaker that President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has been behind attempts to unseat him as Speaker.
However, many Liberians have said that while they sympathize with Speaker Tyler, he must understand that the current bickering over his recusal has affected the country’s forward march to progress and therefore he must do the honorable thing as he has been asked, while he seeks to reclaim his precious image at the corridors of the Supreme Court.
“If Tyler loves Liberia, as he has made us to believe, he would have recused himself because of the damage his refusal is doing to the country,” said James Togba of West Point, in a mobile-phone conversation, meant for this article.
He added, “I can understand Speaker Tyler’s insistence that he would not recuse himself but he should know that his action is hurting Liberia because things are at a standstill right now.”
Others spoken to commented that Speaker Tyler should know that his position is one of the hottest seats in the country’s leadership, with a history of recrimination.
“Recall Rep. Edwin Snowe’s debacle as a speaker?” another rhetorically asked the Daily Observer, “I think it should be a lesson for anyone holding the position in the future that being a Speaker comes with greater responsibility.”
But while the UP’s position is another blow to Speaker Tyler’s intransigence, there is not much that can be done to force Speaker Tyler out of the speakership.
“He has to do it because he has to,” said another young Liberian who has followed the conflict from the beginning.
Though there are talks by Liberia’s National Traditional Council to intervene in the impasse, the UP’s position could force Tyler to refuse to see reason.
“He will feel insecure right now,” another said.
But whichever way the case may go now, the pronouncement by the Unity Party for leadership change could also embolden Tyler’s ‘enemies’ in the House to further entrench their position to force him out, which could heighten the already tense scenario and paralyze the already inactive government, thereby diverting attention from events leading to 2017. But Tyler and others would have to realize that if they have any personal issues to settle, they must not be done to hold ransom Liberia’s forward march, as it presently seems.