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Editorial

The Risks Threatening Liberia’s Emerging Democracy

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Two ‘interventions’ in the ongoing leadership squabble among Members of the House of Representatives may currently be considered a setback for Liberia’s democracy in the minds of many well-meaning citizens, including politically schooled and legal minds.

Recent communication(s) addressed to the Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hans Barchue and the refusal by the Justice-in-Chambers of the Supreme Court of Liberia, Associate Justice Jamesetta H. Wolokollie to issue the Writ of Prohibition prayed for by embattled House Speaker J. Alex Tyler against the majority bloc presided over by Deputy Speaker Barchue, when the High Court had earlier honored similar intervention prayed for by Representative Edwin Snowe, are just indicative of the setback in Liberia’s emerging democracy as expressed by well-meaning Liberians.

Let it be emphatically made clear that the issue of the ‘recusal, removal or resignation’ of the Speaker of the House of Representatives is solely in the purview of his colleagues, but in consonance with the 1986 Constitution of Liberia, as well as rules of the House – and there should no argument about it.

But the current roles of the Executive and Judicial Branches of the Government of Liberia, to be honest, are very worrisome for our democracy. Sincerely, the fact that the head of the Executive Brach would choose to officially respond to two separate communications from the Deputy Speaker and as well as assuring him of her commitment to doing business with [his faction of the House] “a constitutionally organized body of the House” may only lend credence to various public speculations about her involvement or whatsoever.

Many had thought that Madam President would have avoided the openness of her role and move covertly, especially in the wake of various speculations of her alleged involvement in the House’s leadership crisis at the highest level, claims the Executive Mansion has consistently denied.

For the Supreme Court’s Justice-in-Chambers, the decision to decline – though a right, may also just be a sad day and room for apprehension, especially crisis and complaints arising out of the 2017 Presidential and Representative Elections in Liberia.

But let the politically belligerent Representatives beware that while it is their absolute right to “elect, suspend or remove” either of their colleagues – in this case the Speaker, the current path on which they are thriving is a politically dangerous precedence.

In the true sense of reasoning and fairness – even though the activities of the House of Representatives are mostly characterized by practical politics, testing their continuous claims of having the majority in the House’s Chamber to have the Speaker “recuse” himself or ousted would have attracted more public acceptance than the way they continue to go.

Again for now, their political psyche may be pre-occupied by the excitements from the Executive; but we caution here that they must all remember that ‘town trap is not for rat alone’ and that ‘riding on the back of a tiger may not be as enjoyable as they (Representatives) may currently think’.

On the other hand, Speaker Tyler and other Members of the House supportive of him may just be “toothless bull-dogs”, considering that already, some members of the Cabinet, who are directly from the Executive, have already begun to appear for hearing before Deputy Speaker Hans Barchue, Presiding Officer of the House.

How long can the Speaker and supporters continue to fight on, even if they are in the ‘majority’ when the Executive Branch is now channeling ‘everything’ to their colleagues in the Joint Chambers? Who knows – perhaps, other actions from the Executive could follow to completely incapacitate the Speaker and make other weak-minded supporters of his to either cross over or abstain. How long can Speaker Tyler hold on?

Of course, some well-meaning Liberians may be cognizant of the current travesty of democracy, but what else can they do when the Liberian Presidency is overly powerful as per the 1986 Constitution of Liberia?

How long can they continue to voice out the travesty? Perhaps, other Liberians may see it as true democracy in the Liberian way. 

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