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Editorial: Stop War of Words

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Too many verbal attacks have been unleashed among key public officials here in the last two or three weeks, heightening tension within the government of Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. Public officials seem to be busy with blame- shifting, name-calling and other stinking attacks rather than working together to move the country forward. Recently, members of the 53rd Liberian Legislature returned fire sharply after President Johnson-Sirleaf disclosed in the United States that lawmakers prioritize their personal interest over the wellbeing of the citizenry.

House Speaker Alex Tyler challenged the Executive to produce evidence, while some members of the Legislature accused the Ministry of Information, Cultural Affairs and Tourism of defending only the Presidency or the Executive at the detriment of the other two branches of the government. Senator James Biney of Maryland County sent out an open challenge to the Executive to prove whether he has been part of any discussion by a group of lawmakers, who have interest in specific oil block in the country.

Montserrado County District #6 Representative Edwin Snowe crowned it last week when he went on the offense against Mr. Robert Sirleaf, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the National Oil Company of Liberia, accusing him, among other charges, of holding dual citizenship – being in possession of both Liberian and American passports, and wielding enormous power at NOCAL . Snowe has called on President Johnson-Sirleaf to get her son Mr. Robert Sirleaf out of the Liberian Government.

Amidst the internal wrangling, the opposition Congress for Democratic Change recently noted that the growing disharmony between the two branches of government over alleged oil bloc allocations psychologically compromises the check-and-balance obligations of the lower House and the corresponding executing powers of the Executive Branch, while tainting the legitimacy of Liberia’s emerging petroleum sector.

We think that the trading of allegations and counter-allegations expose the gross insensitivity of the government in the proper management of the national resources. It also indicates the Sirleaf Administration’s weakness in cohesively conducting the affairs of state, which renders the entire country vulnerable. Former Liberian interim president Dr. Amos C. Sawyer took the bull by the horn last week when he appealed for calm in the country, stressing that we must go beyond the name-calling to state clearly our policy on the oil sector.

“Our argument from the GC (Governance Commission) now is that we must fast track this process. The policy framework and the institutions that flow from those policies must be put in place,” said Dr. Sawyer. We join Dr. Sawyer in calling on the government to cease the war of words and begin to speak and act cohesively in order to be taken seriously. Although some say the current showdown between the Legislature and the Executive is nothing unique to Liberia, but we believe strongly that after a devastating 14-year civil war, it is about time that our leaders conduct the affairs of state with civility instead of pulling one another down.

We stand to gain more as a people by remaining united in our diversities to advance the national development agenda than placing personal interests above the common good, an age old practice that has retarded our overall socio-economic and political advancement.

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