Speaker Tyler’s Party Criticizes Unity Party’s Position in House of Representatives Crisis

MONROVIA, Montserrado – The Liberia People Democratic Party has strongly criticized the ruling Unity Party for its position in the ongoing crisis at the House of Representatives.

LPDP said Unity Party was equally accused by the Global Witness report of receiving over US$20,000 from Sable Mining to conduct its national convention. It says UP has no moral rectitude to question the legitimacy of Speaker Alex Tyler. Tyler is a member of LPDP.

UP had issued a statement on Wednesday supporting the change of leadership at the House of Representatives. The statement was signed by Eugene Lenn Nagbe, the party’s national secretary general and attested by its national chairman, Wilmot Paye.

UP’s press release said it has recognized that the situation in the House of Representatives has become a stumbling block to progress, development and good governance. It added that the situation is also undermining the implementation of the country’s national development agenda.

With 16 months left for the tenure of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s party, the release said the “continuous bickering also has negative implications for the 2017 presidential and legislative elections and the propensity to undermine national stability.”

Reading the statement on Wednesday, Nagbe, who is also the country’s Information Minister, said the party’s position is based on rounds of consultations with stakeholders, lawmakers, and executive members.

“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,” he said. “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.”

UP’s leadership mandated its members of the House of Representatives to place “national interest” above individual, sectional, and “block” interest by adhering to the tenets of democratic good governance and support the party’s position.

LPDP National Deputy Secretary, Eric Kpayea, called the statement irresponsible and a recipe for chaos.

Kpayea said UP’s position further proves that the situation at the House of Representatives is a plot by the Executive Mansion to remove Tyler from the post of speaker.

Recently, the Bomi Legislative Caucus said in a statement that Sirleaf had informed them that Tyler has continued to undermine her administration and she would ensure that he leaves or be removed as speaker.

Kpayea said the statements issued by the Bomi Legislative Caucus and Unity Party are clear evidence to prove the president’s involvement in the division at the House of Representatives. Both Tyler and Sirleaf hail from Bomi.

At the same time, a young political activist and member of the opposition Congress for Democratic Change has said UP is in a serious political error to question the legitimacy of a sitting speaker. “The speaker was elected on the basis of the standing rules of the House of Representatives. If majority members of the body want a change of leadership to let them do so in the confines of the law,” Mamensie Kabba said.

She said UP’s action undermines the presidential bid of the Vice President to succeed the president following next year’s elections.

Some members of the House of Representatives are calling for Tyler to recuse himself as speaker while he faces indictment for allegedly receiving bribes to change portions of the PPCC law to suit Sable mining acquiring mining rights over the Wologisi Mountain in northern Liberia.

The anti-Tyler representatives are demanding that the speaker rescues himself on the basis of morality.

Over the last two weeks, members of the House of Representatives have been conducting two parallel sessions. One group presided over by Tyler are meeting in the chamber of the body, while the other presided by the deputy speaker, Hans Barchue, are meeting in the joint chambers of the legislature.

Out of the 73 representatives, the pro-Tyler group in its last session on Tuesday, August 16 recorded 32 lawmakers present, while the anti-Tyler lawmakers recorded 36 representatives present. Liberia’s constitution requires “a two-thirds majority of the members of the House” to remove the speaker from office – essentially 49 lawmakers.

While the two factions continue to hold competing sessions, the Supreme Court has yet to make any ruling to determine the legitimacy of the two groups. The commotion in the House of Representatives has prevented the 2016/2017 budget from being passed, even though the fiscal year has already started.

Featured photo by Liberian Legislature

Gbatemah Senah

Senah is a graduate of the University of Liberia and a recipient of the Jonathan P. Hicks Scholarship for Mass Communications. Between 2017 and 2019, he won six excellent reporting awards from the Press Union of Liberia. They include a three-time Land Rights Reporter of the Year, one time Women's Rights Reporter of the Year, Legislative Reporter of the Year, and Human Rights Reporter of the Year.

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