‘Tyler Recusal Virus’ Spreads As Capitol Building Overwhelms With Renegade Legislators

Speaker Alex Tyler and Rep. Bhofal Chambers of Maryland County (Photo credit: Daily Observer)
Speaker Alex Tyler and Rep. Bhofal Chambers of Maryland County (Photo credit: Daily Observer)

The Capitol Building, the building that houses members of the Liberian legislators; members of the Representatives and the Senate has turned to be a theater hall where news of backbiting is always heard and witnessed in the revulsion of Liberians whose overwhelming votes made them to serve them as lawmakers.

As the drama of Speaker Alex J. Tyler to recues himself from presiding over session heats up at the Capitol Building between those who are opting for his recusal on one hand, and those who are resisting his recusal on another hand, there are reports that members of the Senate are also following suit with some members rejecting efforts by their colleagues to either support the drama at the House of Representatives.

Deputy Speaker Hans Barchue and President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf (Photo credit: Executive Mansion)
Deputy Speaker Hans Barchue and President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf (Photo credit: Executive Mansion)

A report emanating from the Senate has revealed that members of the House of Senate are said to be divided regarding the recognition of the Speaker as the constitutional Presiding Officer of the House of Representatives.

A Capitol Building source hinted the GNN today that recent announcement made by President Pro Tempore of the Liberian Senate and Gbarpolu County Senator, Armah Z. Jallah, to halt ‘doing business’ amid the ongoing mediation between pro and anti-Tyler lawmakers reportedly created serious separation in that august House.

Senate Pro -Tempore, Armah Jallah and Margibi County Senator Oscar Cooper
Senate Pro -Tempore, Armah Jallah and Margibi County Senator Oscar Cooper

Addressing a news conference on Thursday, August 25, 2016, with Grand Kru and Grand Gedeh County Senators on both sides – Sen. Albert Chie and Steve Zargo respectively, Pro Tempore Jallah revealed that the Senate has resolved “not to do business with either Chamber” of the House of Representatives.

He indicated that despite the decision, mediation would still be ongoing between both groups. It may be recalled that a week ago, the Senate through the President Pro Tempore constituted a six-member committee to intervene to help resolve the ongoing crisis among members of the House of Representatives.

The crisis is centered on the resolution of a splinter group of the Lower House, crafted August 11, asking House Speaker Alex Tyler Sr. to “recues” himself from his position as Presiding Officer over Plenary.

The Senate committee, headed by Pro-Tempore Jallah, was constituted following an Executive Session. Other members include Senators Geraldine Doe-Sheriff (Montserrado), Henry Yallah (Bong), Peter Coleman (Grand Kru), Joseph Nagbe (Sinoe), and Stephen Zargo (Lofa).

In a statement read by Sen. Jallah at the news conference, the committee is mandated to play a mediatory role by constructively engaging the parties involved in the crisis and proffering a resolution for peaceful settlement of the conflict.

Meanwhile, after the Pro Temp’s press conference, three Senators from Margibi, River Cess and Grand Gedeh Counties held an undisclosed meeting with Speaker Tyler, and vowed to uphold the rule of law. The three, according to eyewitnesses, are Senators Oscar Cooper, Francis Paye and Alphonso Gaye, who said they would ensure that the Senate recognizes Speaker Tyler until he is duly removed.

Eyewitnesses further said Senators Dan Morais (Maryland), Jewel Howard Taylor (Bong), and Bomi Senators Sando Johnson and Morris Saytumah are among Senators ensuring the recognition of Speaker Tyler.

However, the Senate mediation committee led by the Pro Tempore insists that the Senate must stop doing business with either side.

However, as the battle between the Pro and Anti-Tyler continues, a member of the Pro-Tyler, Maryland County District #2 Representative, Dr. Bhofal Chambers has disclosed that the Speaker “will not recuse himself or resign,” as demanded by the ‘so-called majority members’ of the House of Representatives and recommended by the National Traditional Council of Liberia (NTCL) “unless he is duly removed in Chambers.”

According to a local daily, Rep. Chambers, the House Chairman on National Defense, dismissed rumors that the Speaker had already recused himself as of Thursday. Noting, “Intelligent people” would not think of the recusal of the Speaker, he said, “because of so-called pressure from the Executive, including desperado lawmakers and chiefs who are being used.”

The Maryland representative, who was elected on the ticket of the Congress for Democratic Change (CDC), believes that the “un-cohesiveness of the Legislature owing to the interference of the Executive is equivalent to governance madness and such cannot be respected, because Liberia is a country of laws.” Speaker Tyler, he said, will remain Speaker “until the constitution plays out, because no number is considered majority until it is tested in the sacred Chambers of the House of Representatives.

“The President wants to equate herself to a tree, refusing to realize that she is part of the tree, but not the tree,” Dr. Chambers said, adding, “As lawmakers [under] the Constitution, the Speaker will only step aside as per the requirements of the Constitution.” In a session under Speaker Tyler yesterday, 31 lawmakers were present and six were marked present by distance. But Rep. Chambers said it would be disrespectful for the laws of the land not to prevail, but be thrown aside, adding, they should bind every Liberia together.

“We were not surprised over the decision of the Chiefs, because it was the same Chiefs that were used by President Sirleaf to crown former Libyan President Col. Gaddafi as ‘King of Kings of Africa,’” the Maryland lawmaker said. “The President always use and abuse the Chiefs… and

we know money was splashed,” Dr. Chambers said, noting that the Chiefs’ failure to mediate in the 2014 health workers crisis, as well as the Bassa tribe’s stand against Tyler (of which he is a member), as classical examples of the abuses. Chambers even noted Chief Karwor’s own wife’s public rejection to listen to her husband’s advice.

Yesterday’s session under Tyler did not have any communications, bills or invitees to discuss on. For that purpose, Rep. Chambers only spoke on miscellaneous items and the session was adjourned. Noticeably, there were deficits growing in Tyler camp, with two of his supporters, Reps. Julee Wiah of Lofa County and Maryland lawmaker Rep. Isaac Roland, reportedly defecting to the other side.

Last Tuesday, four Tyler supporters asked to be excused from participating in meetings the lawmakers were holding. They included Reps. Clarence Massaquoi of Lofa County District #3; Alex Grant of Grand Gedeh District #3; Prince O. S. Tokpah of Nimba County District #2; and Sekou Kanneh of Montserrado County District #2.

Thursday, the presence of deputies of the Sergeant-at-Arms and the Director of Press in the parallel session, including 37 members of the House of Representatives, raised eyebrows. A source told the Daily Observer that the House’s Chamber remains the only venue for business of the House of Representatives, and that is why it is duly called the “Sacred Chambers” of the House of Representatives.

However, ‘Renegade lawmakers’ have unanimously voted to mandate the Committees on Ways, Means, Finance and Development Planning and Public Accounts to join the Senate’s Ways, Means, Finance and Budget to resume ‘Budget Hearings’ on Monday, August 29.The House’s

Chairman on Ways, Means, Finance and Development Planning is Lofa County District #5 Representatives Moses Y. Kollie – a member of Pro-Tyler lawmakers. About 17 persons of the 22-member Budget Committee are Pro-Tyler lawmakers. The Joint Chambers’ Plenary has also agreed to immediately replace members who will not be available for the resumption of the Budget Hearings on Monday. Also, a certificate of extension of the regular 5th Session has been issued for one month, commencing Thursday, September 1 to Thursday, September 30. For that, over 25 lawmakers signed and if concurred by the Senate, the extension would hold.

Credit: Daily Observer

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About Cholo Brooks 15600 Articles
Joel Cholo Brooks is a Liberian journalist who previously worked for several international news outlets including the BBC African Service. He is the CEO of the Global News Network which publishes two local weeklies, The Star and The GNN-Liberia Newspapers. He is a member of the Press Union Of Liberia (PUL) since 1986, and several other international organizations of journalists, and is currently contributing to the South Africa Broadcasting Corporation as Liberia Correspondent.