The role of the Liberian Senate in the ongoing rigmarole at the National Legislature particularly in the House of Representatives appears to raise more confusion rather than provide direction.At least 12 Senators on Tuesday issued a press statement announcing their resolve to only do business with the pro-Tyler group in the ongoing dispute at the House of Representatives between the majority bloc headed by Hans Barchue and minority headed by Speaker Alex Tyler.
This comes days after some members of the Senate signed a certificate along with the anti-Tyler bloc requesting a 30 day extension of session. Senators Jewel Howard Taylor of Bong County, Matthew Jaye of River Gee County, and Morris Saytumah of Bomi County are among Senators who initially signed extension in a shadow form along with the majority bloc at the House of Representative headed by presiding officer, Deputy Speaker Hans Barchue.
Their move also comes in contravention of an earlier pronouncement by Senate Pro Tempore Armah Jallah who told journalists here last week that the Senate will not do business with the two blocs.
At the press conference Tuesday August 30, in the conference room of the Liberian Senate in Monrovia, the Senators issued an opposing statement terming the statement of Pro Tempore Armah Jallah as undermining the position of the entire senate, while also accusing him of secretly signing the certificate of extension without the knowledge of the senate plenary. They added that such individual position does not respect the position of the entire senate.
Pro Tempore Jallah and along with few senators were accused of allegedly signing the certification of extension without the knowledge of plenary in concurrence with the majority bloc and forwarded same to the Executive Mansion for approval.
The certificate of extension signed by the members of the Liberian Senate and House of Representatives approved by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf on August 25, seeks for a month long stay at the Capitol Building despite their constitutional break which commenced on Monday, August 30.
Their action was considered by Senator Alphonso Gaye of Grand Gedeh County as ‘gross disrespect’ to the plenary of the senate. The 12 senators who signed the joint statement are Alphonso Gaye, Francis Paye, Daniel Naathan, Jewel Howard Taylor, Sando Johnson, and George Tengbeh. Others are; Thomas Grupee, Varney Sherman, J. Gbleh-bo Brown, Oscar Cooper, and Morris Saytumah.
The senators stated that with reliance on Article 29 and 49 of the 1986 Constitution of Liberia, their commitment to and reaffirmation of the position that the Liberian Senate ought to officially transact legislative business with the constitutionally elected speaker of the house, until such time as there is a change in the leadership of the house and the Constitution of Liberia.
“We assert and declare that serious and appropriate efforts ought to be made by the senate to ensure that the concerns of the aggrieved members of the house are accommodated for the unimpeded operations of the house,” the statement said.
The 12 senators called on all aggrieved members of the house to honorably return to the chambers of the house and process their concern and grievances in accordance with the rules and procedures of the house and the Constitution of Liberia.
Sen. Gaye also said, simultaneously; call on embattled Speaker Alex Tyler and the leadership of the house to create an enabling environment for the transparent hearing and judicious disposition of the concerns of the aggrieved members that constitute a significant percentage of the membership of the house.
The 12 senators promised to work in concert with their colleagues in the senate; play a meaningful role, one grounded in the rule of law for the common good; and remain sensitive to the concerns and grievances of the aggrieved.
By E. J. Nathaniel Daygbor -Edited by Othello B. Garblah