Speaker of Liberia’s Lower House Recuses Himself From Proceedings Amid GW Bribery Probe
Monrovia – Normal legislative activities at the House of Representatives has been at a standstill for about two months now with a group of lawmakers demanding Speaker Alex Tyler to recuse himself due to an ongoing indictment against him by the state on multiple criminal charges in connection with an alleged bribery revealed by Global Witness, but the embattled Speaker, who has now adhered to the demand of his colleagues, says President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has declared that she no longer wants to work with him.
“Therefore, if my recusal is the ultimate sacrifice that will move our country forward and end this current quagmire, I am herewith recusing myself from presiding over the plenary of the House of Representatives so that the business of the Liberian people can be fully addressed”-Alex J. Tyler, recused Speaker, House of Representatives
Announcing what many will see as the ultimate decision, recusing himself as Presiding Officer of the House of Representatives Thursday, Speaker Tyler disclosed that the pressure by his colleagues is more than just an indictment, saying President Sirleaf has told many stakeholders including members of the Bomi County Legislative caucus that she can no longer do business with him.
Speaker Tyler says the President is accusing him of undermining the country’s development agenda by refusing to pass certain legislations such as financing agreements.
“The situation has now taken on a new dimension in which we were informed by the Bomi Legislative Caucus following their visit to the President, and later on some colleagues of mine who met with her as well as some prominent members of the society who also interacted with her that the Chief Executive has accused me of undermining the country’s development agenda by refusing to pass certain legislations such as financing agreements”, the Speaker disclosed in a statement delivered.
The recused Speaker said the President told stakeholders that she cannot work with him and she wanted them to communicate her decision to him (Tyler).
Says Speaker Tyler: “At those meetings she stated that she wants me removed as Speaker on grounds that she cannot work with me any longer and asked them to convey same to me and this was directly communicated”.
The recused Speaker says the Legislature, as the first branch of government, is entrusted with the responsibility of independently scrutinizing all bills, financial agreements (loans, protocols, conventions, agreements, etc) that are presented to it for consideration and passage where necessary and as such for over ten years, under his leadership the body has passed key legislations.
Ratification of these legislations, he says, has been done in the best interest of the country and furthermore, when some legislation were not suitable, they were rejected in the interest of the country.
“For over ten years, when we ratified several agreements and passed key legislations, we did so in the best interest of the country. Equally so, when we deem certain legislations not suitable for the country, the necessary interventions were made and in some cases, we painstakingly rejected. It is unfortunate and at best regrettable that the President would now see our latter action as being uncooperative and undermining her agenda”, the recused Speaker said.
He wants the Legislature to maintain its independence and uphold the constitution.
“We believe to do otherwise will brand us as compromising our constitutional mandate. Let it be emphasized that the Legislature should always maintain its independence and uphold its constitutionally assigned duties and responsibilities now and in the future”, the recused Speaker expressed.
I am herewith recusing myself
The embattled Speaker, who has been under immense pressure to recuse himself, has now declared that for the sake of Liberia, he is recusing himself for the country to move ahead.
He says Liberia is bigger than any individual and it is not about him but the Liberian people.
“For me it is not about Alex Jenekai Tyler. The people of Liberia whom we serve, are looking to us for leadership and their interest and welfare should reign supreme above any individual or personal consideration. I hope all national leaders must be cognizant of this fact”, he said.
He continued: “Therefore, if my recusal is the ultimate sacrifice that will move our country forward and end this current quagmire, I am herewith recusing myself from presiding over the plenary of the House of Representatives so that the business of the Liberian people can be fully addressed”.
In a biblical statement, the recused Speaker mentioned that he is reminded of the Biblical history of two ladies who were claiming the same child-one the true mother and another an imposter where the imposter demanded that the baby be splitted into two.
“As a God fearing man, I am constantly reminded of the Biblical teaching of King Solomon relating to the status of the baby in determining the true biological mother, with one preferring the splitting of the baby in half, while the other holds that the baby be spared. There, King Solomon came to the conclusion of knowing who the true mother of the baby was”, he said.
Liberia, he said, is faced with a similar scenario wherein the nation is bigger than any individual.
Demanding Speedy trial
He said the state must ensure that the trial is speedily adjudicated.
“It must be noted that indictment is not a guilty verdict and it is indeed unfortunate that some of our colleagues have chosen to effectively and glaringly exploit and politicize what is purely a legal matter”, he indicated.
He warned that no individual can subvert the constitution of the country and go with impunity.
“However, it is my ardent hope that the ongoing trial can be speedily adjudicated. Let it be made clear that none of us from the presidency to the ordinary man in the street can subvert our constitution with impunity or subject the country to our personal whims and caprices”.
With the Speaker taking the decision demanded by his colleagues over the last two months, it is expected that calm will return to the House of Representatives and the body to commence the process of deliberating the draft budget for 2016/2017 and also reviewing other proposed legislations.
Executive Mansion Thanks Tyler
Meanwhile, the Executive Mansion has thanked Honorable J. Alex Tyler for recusing himself as Speaker of the House of Representatives at the National Legislature.
According to an Executive Mansion release, it is noted that the recusal of Honorable Tyler as Speaker of the House of Representatives will now allow the House of Representatives and the National Legislature in general to focus on its constitutional duties for the development of the country.
The Executive Mansion acknowledges that the Executive has over the past several years worked with the National Legislature in carrying out its duties for the good of the country and will continue to do so.
The release points out further that this collaborative process changed after Honorable Tyler announced his bid for the Liberian presidency and adopted a non-cooperative posture. As a result, critical legislations were stalled which had the effect of undermining the country’s development plan.
The Executive Mansion notes that it is clear that an indictment is not the presumption of guilt but the start of a legal process, but it also brings into question whether it is right for one so charged to continue to preside over a body which has responsibility for the allocation of resources for the country.
The Executive Mansion expects that Honorable Tyler will continue to make contributions to the governance and development of the country and help maintain the peace and stability of Liberia.