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House Fight Leaps to Senate?

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It may appear that the ongoing political uproar in Liberia’s House of Representatives is at the verge of leaping to the Liberian Senate.

House Fight

Legislative sources are suggesting that scores of Senators are now expressing resentments at the inconsistency and semblance of deceit emanating from President Pro-Temp Armah Jallah’s leadership.

Recently, the Senate setup a six-man committee to intervene in restoring peace to the House of Representatives, as well as fostering growth in that august body.

President Pro Temp Armah Jallah told a news conference following the setting up of the committee that the Liberian Senate had vowed not to do Legislative business with either side of the leadership squabble.

But while supportive of the aforementioned position of the Senate, President Pro-Temp Armah Zolu Jallah was, at the same time, allegedly receiving Legislative instruments from the Pro-Tyler Members of the House of Representatives – an action his colleagues described as double-standard and a complete betrayal.

A few Legislators, who confided in this paper, indicated that by showcasing his ‘incompetence, greed, as well as bringing the Senate to public ridicule’, President Pro-Temp Jallah has already set his own platform for his removal.

Briefly after last Thursday’s Session, Senator Jallah told a news conference that despite President Sirleaf’s endorsement of the Legislative renegade Lawmakers”, coupled with the Supreme Court’s decision to decline on embattled House Speaker Tyler’s prohibition earlier prayed for, the Senate had reached a decision not to do business with both the so-called majority bloc presided over by Deputy Speaker and Speaker Alex Tyler.

But such statement made by Senator Jallah was greeted with serious condemnations from some of his colleagues in the Liberian Senate. In sharp reaction, Senator Alphonso Gaye of Grand Gedeh County described President Pro-Temp Jallah’s statement as false and misleading – one inundated with lies and deceitfulness intended to place the Senate in a partisan position in the ongoing leadership row among Members of the House of Representatives.

Senator Gaye said contrary to the President Pro-Temp’s assertion, the Senate has been doing several Legislative businesses with Speaker Alex Tyler and had concurred with the House on several financial instruments – even in recent times.

“As the ongoing conflict continues in the Lower House, the Senate continues to receive communications from the House of Representatives, under the signature of Mr. J. Sayfurh Geplay, Deputy Chief Clerk, transmitting several legislations (Financing Agreements), seeking the concurrence of the Senate from Speaker Tyler’s bloc,” Senator Gaye said.

The Senate has concurred with the House of Representatives on number of legislations over the past weeks – some of which include, but not limited to the Act to ratify the loan agreement between the Republic of Liberia

and the OPEC Fund for International Development (OFID) (Upgrading of Gbarnga-Salayea road project; An Act to ratify the loan agreement for the development of “Gbarnga-Salayea road project” between the Republic of Liberia and the ARAB Bank for Economic Development in Africa (BADEA); an Act to ratify the Consolidated lease and Management Agreement for the LPRC crude storage facility between the LPRC and Conex Petroleum Group Incorporated; an Act to ratify the Financing Agreement (Youth Opportunities Project) between the Republic of

 Liberia and the International Development Association; as well as an Act to ratify the Financing Agreement ( Additional Financing for the Accelerated Electricity Expansion Project and Amendments to the Original Financing Agreement between the Republic of Liberia and the International Development Association (IDA), among others.

Most recently, following the establishment of the mediating Committee, the Senate received a communication from Speaker Tyler and others, concerning the draft fiscal national budget which was noted – further legitimizing Tyler’s leadership before the Liberian Senate.

“If the President Pro Tempore claimed that we made a decision not to recognize any party, why, then, did the Senate concur with the various legislations transmitted to us under the signature of the Deputy Chief Clerk with Tyler? Is he saying those legislations are now declared null and void, and should neither be signed by the President nor printed into hand bills,” Senator Gaye wondered.

He said the President Pro-Temp, who had announced not to do business with either side of the conflict in the Lower House, had just spearheaded a resolution. “To our utmost surprise, it has been reported in the media that a Resolution signed by 18 Senators was transmitted to the President yesterday evening by the Secretary of the Senate. This is highly regrettable and disappointing that the Secretary of the Senate, whom all of us depend on for guidance, was influenced by some Senators and clandestinely transmitted a resolution that was never discussed in chamber. I challenge him to produce the journal that recorded plenary deliberations and decision,” claimed the Grand Gedeh County Senator.

“We understand that the 18 Senators collaborated with 29 Representatives from “majority members” headed by Deputy Speaker Hans Barchue who also signed a resolution that was transmitted to the President upon which the proclamation for extension was issued”.

But when contacted, the Secretary of the Senate said Article 32-b of the Constitution gives the Senate the power to solicit the signatures of eighteen senators with senate deliberation.

Senator Gaye: “it is now clear that the Leadership of the Senate, including some Senators, have now made themselves a party to the ongoing conflict at the Lower House which, in my view, has impaired the independence of the Senate to play a mediation role in the House’s conflict. The Senate, therefore, should not be taken serious as it has lost its independence to carryout genuine mediation to resolve the conflict. The involvement of the Senate in the mediation process will further deepen and prolong the crisis. I pray that other stakeholders will add to my voice to call on Inter-Religious Council of Liberia, the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL), ECOWAS and the US Embassy to assist us mediate the crisis in the House of Representatives,” he warned.

By E. J. Nathaniel Daygbor-Edited by George Barpeen

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