Liberia: Vice President Taylor Takes over Senate’s Gavel with Plans to Institute Reforms

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MONROVIA – Vice President Jewel Howard Taylor’s posture when President George Weah delivered his third Annual Message last on Monday portrayed a vivid picture of the strains she’s having with the executive which seems to be gradually diminishing her powers as Vice President – something she said she cannot afford.

She has insisted that despite the difficulties, financial and logistical deprivations she claims to be experiencing, she has resolved to come back firm after weeks of go-slow on government functions and official duties.

Even her political party, the National Patriotic Party (NPP), has frowned on what they termed disrespect towards their standard bearer by some functionaries in government, stating that she’s not “a handpicked weakling within the political dispensation to be manipulated and played with”. 

The chairman emeritus of the NPP, Chief Cyril Allen, at the ceremony marking the observation of jailed ex-president Charles Taylor’s, founder of the party, 72nd birthday, called on the Weah-led government and some elements within the NPP not to undermine the party and the Vice President.

He said, “We want to send a warning out to the CDC also, we are part of the Coalition for Democratic Change, we’re a very effective unit within the foundation of the party, we played a very major role in constructing the Coalition document and developing the formula for the electoral process that we won…”

Irrespective of the lack of support to her office and the glaring tension between she and the President, Vice President Taylor on Wednesday issued a statement clarifying speculations that she had resigned the post. 

The statement noted that “The Vice President is aware of the trust and confidence reposed in her by the Liberian people and will continue to serve with distinction.”

She had earlier told FrontPageAfrica in an exclusive interview that though the decision to resign had crossed her mind several times, she will remain focused in fulfilling the mandate given her by the Coalition for Democratic Change government as a result of the 2017 presidential elections.

VP Taylor said in the FPA interview: “I have quite a few times, said you know maybe I didn’t make the right choice, maybe I’m the problem for which this marriage is having all of the stumbling blocks. It’s good to say, internally, you know, well, maybe I’m the problem, what can I do to fix it? But in spite of the many challenges, I know that the people of Liberia when they went to cast their ballot, they looked at the combination of what then Ambassador Weah brought to the table and what I brought to the table –  and how we have managed to put in place in the campaign, a robust team that could deal with any issue – give us proper information, give us proper advice – that’s how we won.”

“The Vice President has decided that despite the strangulation, she’s going to stand tall and put her foot to the ground. We know that she has decided to work with a bloc within the Senate to ensure that some reforms within the Senate are instituted and also ensure that the Liberian Senate is fully audited.”

– A Source close to the Vice President’s Office

Taking Control

Sources close the Office of the Vice President hinted FrontPageAfrica that Madam Taylor has decided to take charge of the Senate’s floor and has for that matter sent a word of caution to the Pro-Tempore, Albert Chie, who is a loyal of President Weah.

FPA gathered that the VP has vowed that under her gavel, there would be no yea, nay voting. 

“The Vice President has decided that despite the strangulation, she’s going to stand tall and put her foot to the ground. We know that she has decided to work with a bloc within the Senate to ensure that some reforms within the Senate are instituted and also ensure that the Liberian Senate is fully audited,” a source closed to the VP told FrontPageAfrica. 

Presiding over Thursday’s Session

Putting her first corrective measure into place as presiding officer, VP Taylor on Thursday, took away the investigation of salaries of the Senate staff from Senator Gble-gbo Brown who chairs the Committee on good governance and Internal Affairs.

According to Madam Taylor, the appropriate committee to handle such investigation is the Committee on Rules, Order and Administration which is headed by Grand Bassa County Senator Nyonblee Kangar-Lawrence.

The investigation which is now headed by Sen. Lawrence would be looking into complaints from staff of the Senate that they have not been receiving their Liberian dollars portion of their salaries since the salary harmonization was instituted by the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning.

Sen. Lawrence’s committee is expected to report to plenary in two weeks.

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