Monrovia – The ongoing debate surrounding attempts by some Lawmakers to have Speaker Alex J. Tyler recuse himself from presiding over the House of Representatives until an indictment drawn against him by the State charging him with multiple criminal offences is resolved has taken a new twist with the opposition Congress for Democratic Change now fighting an internal battle as the party attempt to get involved in the saga.
“I am not aware of my partisans’ suspension. Morlu has no mandate to suspend anybody; it must be to the knowledge of the Executive Committee. The party will come out with a statement”- George Weah, political leader, Congress for Democratic Change
The CDC recently issued a statement calling on its Lawmakers to return to status quo ante in the entire saga after the party’s Lawmakers took separate positions in the debate-some in support of the removal of Speaker Tyler and others against the plan.
(CDC, District 13, Montserrado), who earlier signed the resolution to remove Speaker Tyler rescinded his signature when he wrote that the Executive Committee of the CDC has asked all the party’s Lawmakers to work for peace rather than dividing the Legislature.
Few days after Representative Joseph’s statement, the CDC issued a statement which the party stated was sanctioned by the Executive Committee calling on the party Lawmakers to remain under the gavel of Speaker Tyler.
The CDC stated “Lastly, the party’s published ethical calls for recusal of indicted officials of government in the Global Witnesses’ report, cannot be exploited as a license to connive with the President’s office to stage a legislative uprising, while shielding others. Therefore, against the backdrops of the shocking revelations of bribery (a second degree felony) as influencing basis for the current brawl taking place amongst Lawmakers, the National Executive Committee of the Mighty Congress for Democratic Change herewith reaffirms its position for all its Lawmakers to return to status quo ante as investigations into the unraveling scenario gets concluded consistent with international best practice”.
On Monday some Lawmakers from the CDC who are in support of the removal of Speaker Tyler joined others in issuing a public statement.
Read by one of the party’s Lawmakers, Representative Munah Pelham Youngblood (CDC, District 9), the group of Lawmakers declared in the statement that Speaker Tyler recuse himself from presiding over the House of Representatives.
CDC axe falls
On Wednesday morning, the CDC held a press conference accordingly backed by the National Executive Committee suspending three of its Lawmakers for what the party described as an act of rebellion and defiance.
In the statement read by Mulbah Morlu, Vice Chairman for Operations, CDC stated that it will not leave any stone untouched on those who fall in the party’s web as the 2017 Presidential election draws closer.
The party with immediate effect suspended the three Lawmakers for two years each for disrespecting the Party mandate.
The three Lawmakers including Representative Acarous Gray (District # 8), Munnah Pelham Youngblood (District #9), and Julius Berrian (District #10) were amongst the group of Lawmakers that delivered the anti-Tyler petition Tuesday at the Capitol.
The eight count resolution signed by the 39 representatives was read by Representative Youngblood before presenting it to the Chief Clerk of the House, Mildred Sayon pending its placement on the agenda and subsequent action today Thursday.
This latest decision on the part of the anti-Tyler bloc Lawmakers failed last Thursday to unseat him at which time many of them resolved to stage a stay away from regular sessions and other Legislative functions on grounds that Speaker Tyler lacks the moral rectitude to preside over that august body.
The move paralyzed normal Legislative proceedings as the anti-Tyler Lawmakers were seen at the Rotunda on the ground floor of the Capitol Building, while the rest of the Lawmakers convened to a session.
But instead Speaker Tyler removal fight has taken a new dimension from the Global Witness stand point to a political approach with the Lawmakers raising a red flag on the alleged move on the part of the Bomi County Representative and Liberia People Democratic Party Chairman Lofa County Representative Moses Kollie of influencing decision in the 2016/2017 fiscal budget.
This issue of reported influence of the financial instrument is count seven of the long awaited resolution and one of the most contentious matters that continue to create stir among the Lawmakers.
Accusing President Sirleaf
Like Speaker Tyler, the CDC statement read by Morlu indicated that it is President Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf who is dishing money among the Lawmakers to rebel against the Speaker.
But the office of the President through the Presidential Press Secretary Jelinmick Piah recently described as rubbish the allegation about the President giving money for the removal of Speaker Tyler
Though the CDC has in the past warned its Lawmakers not to form part of the any bloc to remove Speaker Tyler, the three Lawmakers have played deaf ears to their party’s warning thus joining the anti-Tyler group calling for the Speaker to recuse himself from presiding.
Morlu called on the public to not do business with the three suspended Lawmakers in the name of the CDC.
Giving the position of the party’s National Executive Committee, Morlu declared the three Lawmakers’ persona- non grata in their various districts.
“While we declare them persona non grata in their respective districts, we will look up to the district coordinators and the district leadership to exercise jurisdictions over those districts and not to condom in the less form or manner any action and activities of those individuals close to the party, they are ostracize within the time limit of the decision of the Executive Committee,” he said.
Representative Youngblood who read the anti-Tyler resolution reacting to her pronounced suspension said it was her independent decision outside the party decision.
Representative Youngblood said she welcomes the decision of the suspension if it is the party decision to suspend her and colleagues because they are in support of Speaker Tyler’s removal.
She noted that her decision for asking the Speaker to recuse himself from presiding is in support of the majority view of the people she represents.
She told FrontPageAfrica via mobile Wednesday that the party has at no time instructed her to stop or put halt to their decision.
“Nobody has given me instruction to not sign document calling for Tyler to recuse himself from presiding. If even they have given me the instruction, I cannot be saying to the public that I don’t have independent mind. I must have independent judgment, my party could bring an opinion or recommendation and it has to be looked at, so if we look at the gravity and majority of those we represent support what my party does not support I will do what my people say, but I still respect the rules of the party and still a CDCians,” she noted.
Speaking on why Representative Joseph withdrew his signature from the anti-Tyler bloc, Rep Youngblood said after Rep. Saah signed the document, he later told the NEC of the party that he didn’t sign any document, something she said prompted him to withdraw his signature.
“The party and I never had any such discussion, we went to executive committee meeting, we talked about the process leading to elections and Saah Joseph raised the concern of cohesiveness between the Lawmakers at the legislature, he was referring to the incident that went on between Thomas Fallah and Acarous Gray and he was asking the party for unity in that meeting we told the party that we have signed the document for the recusal of Speaker Alex Tyler, and the party asked us who all signed and we stood up but Saah Joseph was still sitting and we asked him but Saah why are you sitting and you know you signed with us, he denied before the NEC saying he didn’t sign, that is why he had to withdraw his signature,” she noted.
Weah Not aware
Senator George Weah, political leader of the CDC who is currently out of the country in a telephone interview on a local Talk Show said the party has taken no decision to suspend Representatives Gray, Youngblood and Berrien.
He said, the executive committee of the CDC is the highest decision making body of the CDC stating that he has instructed the party Chairman to issue a statement on the matter. “I am not aware but my concern is the action that was taken on those Lawmakers”.
“I am not aware of my partisans’ suspension. Morlu has no mandate to suspend anybody; it must be to the knowledge of the Executive Committee. The Party will come out with a statement”, said Weah.
“I have followed the debate, the executive committee is the highest decision making body Mr. Mulbah Morlu has no mandate to suspend anyone it should meet the requirement of the full executive committee members”, Senator Weah said.
The Tyler’s removal saga has now turned an internal rift within the CDC and is likely to tear the party apart for a while.