Liberia: Senate Holds Discussions Over Integrity Concerns

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MONROVIA – Senate Pro-Tempore Albert Chie says the Senate’s leadership is holding discussion on the way forward in addressing concerns by citizens and foreign partners over recent decision to elect Senator Prince Johnson to the Senate leadership.

The Senate Pro-Temp statement was in response to a question about whether the Senate was considering asking Senators Prince Johnson and Varney Sherman of Nimba and Grand Cape-Mount Counties, respectively, to recuse themselves from leadership positions due to immense pressure on the Senate.

Speaking at his regular monthly press briefing, Senator Albert Chie said, the Senate has taken note of the U.S Embassy’s concern and has asked for meeting with the Embassy to hold discussion on a way forward.

Responding to questions about the Senate’s position on the President’s submission of the Truth and Reconciliation (TRC) report for recommendation, he said, the leadership of the Senate is looking into it and with specific interest in the credibility of the report, why some commissioners of the TRC dissented from others on the final recommendations of the report, the mandate of the TRC and what did the Accra Peace accord say.

“We are concerned about retributive justice and because of that we will look into the TRC report holistically,” the Pro-Tempore said.

Last Wednesday, the United States Embassy questioned the seriousness of the Liberian Senate following the election of former warlord Prince Johnson as the chairman of the Senate Committee on National Defense and Security.

In a sharp reaction to his new ascendency, the U.S. Embassy in Monrovia in a statement stated that while U.S. government is proud of its longstanding partnership with the Ministry of National Defense and Armed Forces of Liberia which will continue — they can have no relationship with Senator Johnson. 

The U.S. Embassy: “Senator Johnson’s gross human rights violations during Liberia’s civil wars are well-documented; his continued efforts to protect himself from accountability, enrich his own coffers and sow division are also well known.  That the Liberian Senate would see fit to elevate him to a leadership role – particularly in the area in which he has done this country the most harm — creates doubts as to the seriousness of the Senate as a steward of Liberia’s defense and security.”    

 In response to the US Embassy’s concern, the Liberian Senate acknowledged the U.S. Embassy’s concerns on the election of   Senator Prince Y. Johnson as the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Defense, Security, Intelligence and Veteran Affairs, but says it would engage the Embassy for further clarity on their concerns so as to find amicable solution.

In a statement released over the weekend, the Senate also recognized the concern over maintaining and Senator Varney Sherman of Grand Cape Mount County who has been sanctioned by the US Treasury for alleged bribery and corruption as chair of the committee on Judiciary, Claims and petition.

“The Liberian Senate wishes to assure the US Embassy, other bilateral partners, multilateral partners, other members of the International community, local and international organizations and institutions and the Citizens that in no way support the commission of war crimes, human rights abuse, bribery, corruption, other domestic and international crimes and impunity,” the Senate stated.

The Liberian Senate noted that in furtherance of the prolonged and historic relationship between Liberia and the United States, it would without delay seek the opportunity, through its Embassy accredited to seek clarity on its concerns expressed in the press statement, provide the necessary information on the matter and find a way to address these concerns.”

The Senate also expressed appreciation to the United States of America for the numerous contributions to Liberia’s developmental endeavor, the sustenance of peace and nurturing the tenets of democracy in the country.

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