Ellen Administration Involved in Senate Matters, Too? We Hope This Is NOT True

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Our indefatigable Legislative Correspondent Leroy Sonpon yesterday gave the public an alarming report that President Pro-Tempore of the Senate, Armah Jallah, is facing the wrath of his Senate colleagues. They are threatening to seek his removal as Pro-Temp President.

According to Correspondent Sonpon, Pro-Temp Jallah is in trouble partly for the same reason some people in the House are—they are showing clear signs of being very close to President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.

According to Correspondent Sonpon, these Senators contend that Pro-Temp Jallah has “clandestinely” connived with the Executive. They further accuse the Pro-Temp of “a secret and procedural dealing with President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, without the Senate Plenary approval.”

The aggrieved Senators include Margibi’s Oscar Cooper, River Cess’ Francis Paye and Matthew Jaye, Grand Gedeh’s Alphonso Gaye and A. Marshall Dennis, Maryland’s Dan Morias and J. Gblehbo Brown, Bong’s Jewel Howard Taylor, Bomi’s Sando Johnson and Morris Saytumah, Lofa’s George Tengbeh, Grand Cape Mount’s Varney Sherman, Nimba’s Thomas Grupee and Gbarpolu’s Daniel Naatehn.

These Senators, according to Mr. Sonpon, also view with utter displeasure the apparent siding of Senate Pro-Temp Jallah with the anti-Tyler faction in the House, which is against the Senate’s earlier decision not to take sides, but to intervene in order to help resolve the leadership crisis in the House. But these Senators suspect that Pro-Temp Jallah is siding with the anti-Tyler faction, which also enjoys the support of the Executive.

Is the Executive, in particular President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, also trying to interfere in Senate affairs as she has reportedly done in the House of Representatives? Remember Information Minister and Unity Party (UP) Secretary General Eugene Nagbe’s letter recognizing the anti-Tyler faction in the House and declaring that UP will do business with them?

The burning question is why is this woman, President Sirleaf, always playing with fire? Does she not yet know that any attempt to influence any part of the Legislature borders on unconstitutional behavior? Why is she bent on engaging relentlessly in Machiavellian behavior, and to what end? Does she not know that she is treading on dangerous ground?

The budget process is already stalled due to the bitter controversy over the Alex Tyler Speakership, with one faction, led by Deputy Speaker Hans Barchue, holding separate sessions away from regular session presided over by the Speaker. This has put the entire country at risk. The 2016/2017 National Budget, which was submitted by the Executive since last May and should have been approved by July 1, 2016, is still languishing in the Legislature due to the bitter feud in the House. Does she want another faction in the Senate, too? How then will the government function without a budget or with a quarrelling Legislature where it is impossible to do the people’s business?

If indeed the President insists on doing business with the Hans Barchue faction, which is not only unconstitutional but even treasonable, does she not know that she risks further alienation from the entire Legislature—the House and now the Senate? Does she also not know that this has very serious consequences for the unity of the country?

Only yesterday Correspondent Sonpon reported on the Observer front page that 14 Senators have recognized what they insist is the “constitutionally elected Speaker Alex Tyler.”

Because of this and other serious realities, we think it would be prudent for President Sirleaf to sue for peace both within the House and the Senate. The first thing she must do in this direction is to end her support to the Barchue faction and persuade all in that faction to honor the Constitution of Liberia and reunite with the plenary presided over by the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Alex Tyler. Constitutionally there is no other way. Read the Constitution and tell us whether it stipulates any other function of the Deputy Speaker than to act in the absence of the Speaker. The Constitution also provides absolutely no room for “factions.”

Having, therefore, twice taken the oath of office to “uphold, protect and defend the Constitution of Liberia, so help me God,” Ellen has no alternative but to take this fool’s advice by calling on the Barchue faction to dissolve itself and reunite themselves with the constitutional House Plenary and start doing again the people’s business. This must begin with this most urgent and pressing business—approving the 2016/2017 National Budget and sending it forward to the Senate for concurrence.

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