Monrovia – Although the cabinet has warned officials from the Executive branch of Government against meddling in the internal politics currently taking place at the House of Representatives but the ruling party has taken a firm position which the party’s Secretary General and Information Minister Lenn Eugene Nagbe, a cabinet official, has vowed to uphold.
“The Unity Party therefore avers that Speaker Alex Tyler has lost legitimacy, the confidence of his colleagues and the public trust and therefore supports a leadership change in the House of Representatives”-Unity Party statement signed by Lenn Eugene Nagbe Secretary General and Wilmot J.M. Paye, National Chairman
With the impasse at the House of Representatives looking far from ending with both sides-pro Speaker Alex J. Tyler and anti-Speaker Tyler all claiming legitimacy, the ruling party in a statement issued Wednesday declared that Speaker Tyler has lost legitimacy and the confidence of his colleagues and the public trust.
In the statement, the Unity Party declared that the situation in the House of Representatives is undermining the implementation of the national development agenda of the country with about sixteen months left before the end of the current tenure.
It notes that the continuous bickering also has negative implications for the 2017 presidential and legislative elections and the propensity to undermine national stability.
“The Unity Party therefore avers that Speaker Alex Tyler has lost legitimacy, the confidence of his colleagues and the public trust and therefore supports a leadership change in the House of Representatives”, the Unity Party statement signed by Secretary General Nagbe and Wilmot J.M. Paye, National Chairman noted.
According to the Unity Party, its position is based on several rounds of consultation with national stakeholders, party executives and the Unity Party legislators in the House of Representatives.
“Unlike positions taken by other political parties which were motivated largely by sentiments and other narrow considerations, the Unity Party recognizes that precious and valuable time and resources are being wasted and/or misdirected while critical governance issues are left unattended”, the party lamented.
Unity Party stated that only a new leadership can normalize legislative functions at the House of Representatives.
“With such irrefutable loss of confidence in the leadership of the Speaker by his fellow members, we have no iota of doubt that a new leadership will work to restore public confidence and thereby normalize legislative functions”, the ruling party expressed.
The party called on its legislators to put what it terms as the national interest above individual, section and ‘block’ interest by adhering to what the party referred to as democratic good governance and support the party’s position.
Will UP lawmakers adhere?
The Unity Party has one of the largest bloc of lawmakers at the House of Representatives but many of the ruling party lawmakers are pro Speaker Tyler.
Speaker Tyler himself who was once a member of the ruling party only to resign recently and form his own political party continues to enjoy the support of the Unity Party lawmakers.
Ruling party Lawmakers including Gayah Karmo (Bomi County), Clarence Massaquoi (Lofa County), Mariamu Fofana (Lofa), Ben Fofana (Margibi County) amongst others are all supporters of Speaker Tyler’s leadership.
Taking a side
The Executive has already mandated its officials to stay out of the legislative politics but the Unity Party’s statement declaring the leadership of Speaker Tyler illegitimate looks to have given some officials of the Executive the will to recognize the anti-Tyler bloc.
Information Minister Nagbe who was on Tuesday cited by the Deputy Speaker Hans Barchue led bloc to appear before the body to provide explanation for the wave of closure of media institutions based on court orders due to reported failure to pay taxes, has resolved to appear before Deputy Speaker Barchue as presiding officer at the House of Representatives.
In a letter dated August 16, 2016, signed by Deputy Speaker Barchue & Presiding Officer at the House of Representatives, the communication mandated the Minister to appear at 11am on Thursday in the joint Chambers of the Legislature to provide detailed information as its relates to the government’s official position on the closure of these media institutions.
The letter, signed by Deputy Speaker Barchue, stated: “I present my compliments and on behalf of Plenary and to appraise you of her decision in the wake of the closure of some radio stations operating in Liberia.
On August 16, 2016, a concern was raised by Hon. Jefferson S. Karmoh Representatives of Electoral District #1, Sinoe County that some radio stations have been closed by the Government.
This action has led some citizens to speculate that the country is reversing its gains made on freedom of the press and expression”, the letter stated.
The communication continued: “In the wisdom of Plenary, there is little information as to what prompted Government’s action.
In this regards, Plenary invites you to appear on August 18, 2016 at 11:00 am in the Joint Chambers of the Legislature to provide detailed information as it relates to the Government’s official position”.
In response to the letter, Minister Nagbe has expressed that he will appear at the House of Representatives today (Thursday) as requested under the gavel of Barchue as presiding officer
“I will show up tomorrow at the HoR under the gavel of the presiding officer, Hans Barchue”, Minister Nagbe stated in a text message to FrontPageAfrica.
Another cabinet Minister is facing similar dilemma, with both the Speaker Tyler and Deputy Speaker Barchue led plenaries citing Minister of Education George Werner to provide explanation on the mass failure of Liberian students in the recent West African Examination Council (WAEC) exams.
Minister Werner is caught between the scissors as to which of the two gatherings to appear before but his cabinet colleague Minister Nagbe has already resolved the dilemma by announcing his decision.
Disobeying cabinet’s Mandate?
Minister Nagbe’s stance comes as an attempt to ignore the mandate by cabinet that all executive officials stay clear of the House of Representatives impasse.
By announcing that he recognizes Deputy Speaker Barchue as the Presiding Officer of the House of Representatives, the Information Minister has already ignored the mandate of cabinet.
It remains unclear whether other cabinet Ministers will take the same decision as Minister Nagbe or go the way of Speaker Tyler.
The both plenaries have in recent time communicated separately to cabinet officials on different issues.
The Deputy Speaker Barchue led bloc Tuesday communicated with the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning and the Central bank of Liberia, ordering a freeze on the accounts of the House of Representatives.
It is not yet known whether these two institutions will act on the communication under the signature of Deputy Speaker Barchue as Presiding Officer of the House of Representatives.
Speaker Tyler has already accused President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf who heads the Executive of masterminding his removal although the President has denied such claims as baseless.