New Speaker’s Alliance With Incoming President Should Not Make First Branch of Gov’t Rubber Stamp Legislature
LIBERIA’S NEW HOUSE SPEAKER made a stunning revelation on Monday, January 15, 2018 following his election on white ballot at the Capitol. But his comments signaled a message that appeared to have skipped passed the ears of many Liberians.
BHOFAL CHAMBERS was quite grateful to President-elect George Manneh Weah when he bluntly said the Coalition for Democratic Change’s (CDC) political leader promised him the Speaker position of the House of Representatives two years ago.
SAID CHAMBERS: “I also want to thank His Excellency Ambassador George Manneh Weah, who saw in me two years ago, and told me that ‘whatever it is, when things happen in our way,’ you will be the next Speaker of the Republic of Liberia.”
HE PRAISED THE INCOMING President for being a “man of credibility” and promised that he wouldn’t let him (Weah) down.
WHAT WE THINK is wrong with the comment coming from the new third most powerful man in Liberian politics, is a semblance of Conflict of Interest. Its implications are still unrealizable in this new political era, which is filled with huge expectations from many Liberians.
IT IS ALSO NOT too early for us to raise a red flag over a House of Representatives that would fall short of becoming a “Rubber Stamp” legislature, where the House Speaker would work at the will and pleasure of the Executive because he feels obligated to the President; because he was offered the job based on a promise by the Chief Executive.
ALTHOUGH SPEAKER CHAMBERS IS cognizant of the challenges that have dogged the integrity of the House over the past years, he must work assiduously to vindicate himself by translating the critical stance he took against outgoing President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf that earned him positive reviews over the years.
“WE WILL DO WHAT is required of us based on our term of reference and I expect that of all of you (representatives). In our operations, Liberia will come first; friendship will not be a priority,” Speaker Chambers told his colleagues.
CHAMBERS IS CONSCIOUS that Liberians are suspicious of their politicians’ flip-flopping attributes and he would have to transcend his tough-talking qualities into deeds. But with the palpability of ties with the incoming President undeniable, WE ARE VERY CONCERNED about the independent function of his office.
IN THE PAST 12 years, we have witnessed the manipulative powers of the Executive and how the Office of the President, sometimes, influenced the Legislature against the will of the people by sponsoring the signing of bogus concession agreements and the passage of laws that protected the interest of the few privileged individuals.
ARTICLE THREE OF THE CONSTITUTION warns against interference by any one of the three branches of government into the duties and functions of the other.
“CONSISTENT WITH THE PRINCIPLES of separation of powers and checks and balances, no person holding office in one of these branches shall hold office in or exercise any of the powers assigned to either of the other two branches except as otherwise provided in this Constitution; and no person holding office in one of the said branches shall serve on any autonomous public agency.”
CRITICS HAVE DUBBED lawmakers a “Rubber Stamp Legislature” mainly because of their inability to rigorously scrutinize bills suggested by the Executive or reject the lobby fees and reject the demands of the Executive, which core intents are not of national interest. The so-called 4G passage of bills have clouded the reputation of the Legislature and we hope the new Legislature will do better than being a rubber stamp legislature.
WE DON’T PRESUME THAT President-elect Weah would continue ‘business as usual’ with the Legislature, but we are WEARY about the power of the President, which can be overwhelmingly misused. We want to caution against cronyism, partisanship or friendship at the detriment of national interest.
WE ARE PRETTY AWARE that Speaker Chambers and President-elect Weah have a lot in common: they hailed from Southeastern Liberia and are stalwarts of the CDC – this means, they have a lot of political relationship. But, they also have the foremost interest of nationalism, above all else.