Monrovia – In the past weeks news of the ousting of House of Representative Speaker J. Alex Tyler has heightened with reports that a good number of lawmakers have already signed a resolution seeking to ax the Speaker sometimes this week.
Report by Henry Karmo – [email protected]
“The Speaker and some members have refused that suggestion, arguing that it has no basis in the laws of the Republic of Liberia. Upon reflection and realizing the need for peace and harmony amongst members of the House of Representatives, I am here forthwith rescinding and withdrawing my signature from said any resolution that supports the removal of the Speaker” – Samuel G.Z. Woleh, Sr. Representative, District #3, Nimba County
Speaker Tyler has been in hot water with some of his colleagues since his indictment by the Government of Liberia on multiple criminal charges for his alleged involvement in a Global Witness reported bribery saga.
Some members of the House of Representatives want the Speaker to recuse himself from presiding further until the ongoing court proceeding is concluded but the Speaker and his supporters say there is no law providing for such action, relying on the precedent of former Senator Roland Kaine and former Deputy Speaker Tokpah Mulbah.
Kaine while serving as sitting Senator of Margibi County was indicted on murder charges where he was even incarcerated at the Monrovia Central prison but Kaine was still known to be Senator until he was later acquitted of all charges following criminal prosecution.
Similar situation occurred in the case of Bong County lawmaker Mulbah who while serving as Deputy Speaker during the 52nd Legislature was indicted and sent to court but maintained his position.
In the case of Speaker Tyler he has since accused President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of allegedly masterminding his removal to according to him enable the President exert more control over the Legislature.
President Sirleaf has since denied any involvement describing Speaker Tyler’s accusations as completely untrue and a blackmail.
The Speaker Tyler removal news has been gaining momentum with reports that at least eight more signatures are needed to get the two third majorities to announce the ousting of the Speaker.
Crack in plot
Multiple sources confirmed that by the weekend the lawmakers pushing for the ousting of Speaker Tyler have garnered sufficient signatures to push their plan into action this week but on Monday the variable looks to be changing with at least six lawmakers who earlier signed the removal resolution rescinding their signatures.
On July 24 and 25 two lawmakers wrote withdrawing their signatures from the resolution they earlier signed.
On July 24, Representative Richmond Anderson, District 12, Montserrado County wrote the committee calling for the recusal of Speaker Tyler withdrawing his signature.
“I have the honor to present my compliments to you and members of the Committee to remove Honorable Alex J. Tyler as Speaker of the House of Representatives for his alleged role in the Global Witness saga and wish to express my deepest appreciation to you and Committee members including the Liberty Party Legislative Caucus for your kind request that I head the struggle to remove the Speaker in an effort to redeem the honor of the Legislature.
This request, as you know, was accepted in good faith with the appending of my signature. I wish to thank you for the confidence reposed in my ability and integrity”, stated lawmaker Anderson.
Representative Anderson further indicated that based on the fact that the Legislature as the first branch of government which is significantly responsible to maintain the unity, stability and peace of the country he has given serious thought to his previous decision, realizing that as one of the elders and leaders of the House of Representatives and importantly chairman for Information, Broadcasting, Culture and Tourism, he believes he should be playing a significant role in defending the House’s image in assisting to bring peace, unity and reconciliation other than expanding the divide and conflict.
Stated the Lawmaker: “In view thereof, I wish to retract my earlier position and to inform you that my signature on the Resolution is forthwith withdrawn.
This position is in no way spite as I quite understand your respect for the House and to protect its integrity. However, I think the unity of House of Representatives is most important and wish that you will accept that I play a mediatory role at this critical period”.
Second lawmaker defects
On July 25, Representative Saah Joseph, District 13, Montserrado County also wrote withdrawing his signature.
Stated lawmaker Joseph “distinguished colleagues following the affixing of my signature on the above mentioned resolution and having realized that our country needs reconciliation, peace and the working together of all those elected to serve our people more than even before in the history of our country, especially as we endeavor to achieve the first constitutional transfer of power from one elected government to another; we, as representatives and leaders of the country must be seen working together to attain this goal”.
The lawmaker continued “further, a decision was reached at the National Executive Committee of my party (CDC) to the effect that we CDC lawmakers must work towards uniting the Legislature rather than taking position that further divides it. In view of the aforementioned, I am herewith withdrawing and rescinding my earlier decision and signature from said resolution. I shall avail myself to work with you and our colleagues, including the Speaker to unite the Legislature”
Third and fourth withdraw
Two other lawmakers including Samuel G.Z. Woleh, Sr. of Nimba County, District 3 and Morias T. Waylee, Grand Gedeh County District 2 also withdrew their signatures in separate communications dated the same day, July 30.
Stated Representative Woleh “Colleagues, since the publication of the Global Witness report involving the Speaker and some present and former officials, there have been differences of opinions regarding the recusal and or removal of the Speaker before the legal process can be executed. Going forward, I shall make myself available to a process that would ensure that unity and harmony prevail in the House of Representatives”.
FrontPageAfrica investigation has learnt that 40 lawmakers have signed the resolution to remove Speaker Tyler.
FrontPageAfrica has also learnt that some lawmakers especially those from the opposition Congress for Democratic change (CDC) have withdrawn their signatures based on a mandate from the party executive committee.
According to information lawmakers including Acarous Gray (CDC-District#8 Montserrado County), Julius Berrian (CDC-District #10 Montserrado County), Thomas P. Fallah (CDC-District #5 Montserrado County) and Saah Joseph (CDC-District# 13 Montserrado County) have all withdrawn their signatures to remove Speaker Tyler.
Secret meeting at Deputy Speaker’s home
On late Monday, FPA spotted several lawmakers at a secret meeting held at the home of deputy Speaker Hans Barchue, the man tipped to succeed Speaker Tyler if majority of the lawmakers agree to sign the resolution to remove the Speaker.
Before the meeting a text message to Representative Josephine Francis, (UP-District#1 Montserrado County), inviting lawmakers to the meeting stated: “you are kindly invited to a meeting at the home of deputy Speaker by 4pm please be present and on time.”
Representative Francis recently said the failure of Speaker Tyler to recuse himself is stalling normal legislative activities at the Capitol.
About twenty nine lawmakers were spotted at the late evening meeting at Deputy Speaker Barchue’s residence.
The lawmakers included Corpu Barclay (bong County), Nimene Batekwa (Grand Kru), Gethrue Lamin (Gbarpolu County), Mary Kaiwor (Grand Bassa County), Jeremiah McCauley (Sinoe County), Henry Fahnbulleh (Montserrado), Robertson Siaway (Grand Bassa), George Mulbah (Bong), Ballah Zazy (Margibi), Gabrile Smith (Grand Bassa), Munah P. Youngblood (Montserrado), Edwin M. Snowe (Montserrado), Richmond Anderson (Montserrado), Edward Kaifai, Tokpah Mulbah and Eugene Fallah Kaprkar.
Others include Samuel Kogar, Prince Moye, Emmanuel Nuquay, Adolph Lawrence, Ricks Toweh, Stephen Kafi, Bill Twehway and Julius Berrian.
Speaker Tyler a month ago at a news conference claimed that President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has threatened to withhold the benefits of lawmakers and district project funds if they fail to remove him.
“These well-orchestrated ploys by the President to hold the House of Representatives in ransom by denying members their due benefits and entitlement as a means to strangulate us into undue political submission is in itself dictatorial and undemocratic to say the least.
We will resist any sort of blackmail and hold high our standing and maintain that our benefits and entitlement are by law and not by the will and pleasure of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf”, the Speaker continued.
He described the alleged attempt by the President to remove him as total disrespect and disregard to the Constitution and laws of Liberia and those who elected her and the very people they as lawmakers represent.
“We are leaders of our people and not subjects of the President or kids running after her for candies. Be assured that we will defend the sacred doctrine of separation of power as enshrined in Article 3 of the constitution of our country”, the Speaker declared.
The under fire Speaker did not mince his words when he accused President Sirleaf as the architect for his removal.
“The chief architect of this ploy is President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf and the chief motive of President Johnson Sirleaf is to remove me as the Speaker of the House of Representatives who is seen in her mind an obstacle in pursuance to her personal political agenda.
In view thereof, the President is seeking to by-pass the constitutional safe-guard of an independent Legislature”, Speaker Tyler alleged.