President Silent on Runaway Speaker

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President Sirleaf with Speaker Alex Tyler
President Sirleaf with Speaker Alex Tyler

President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf Wednesday declared no comment on the resignation of House Speaker Alex Tyler from the ruling Unity Party.

The Speaker’s decision to leave the Unity Party means the President has lost control over the leadership of the legislature with serious implication for her legislative agenda.

But she declined to react to the high profile resignation when reporters quizzed her at the Capitol.

“Madam President, what do you make of the resignation of the Speaker from the Unity Party? No comment” President, replied.

She was at the Legislature, barely 24 hours after House’s plenary vehemently rejected her TRC progress report and had a secret meeting with the leadership of the Legislature.

The actual outcome of the meeting is unclear but the President insisted it was on the state of the national economy.

“I came to meet with the Leadership of the Legislature to discuss the economy and see how best we can move the country forward.”

The President could not say whether the economy is in good or bad shape.

Though the President said her closed doors discussion with lawmakers was squarely focused on the economy, sources at the Legislature however informed The New Democrat that she was troubled over the lawmakers’ harsh reaction to the progress report on the implementation of the erstwhile Truth and Reconciliation Commission recommendations.

On Tuesday, 13 October 2015, members of the House of Representatives rejected President Sirleaf’s TRC report, terming the communication she wrote on 15 September 2015 as ambiguous, indirect and inconclusive.

House’s plenary also instructed its Chief Clerk to do a written communication to the President, indicating to her their latest decision, as well as requesting the President do another communication to them, clearly articulating what she(President Sirleaf) wants them(lawmakers) to do.

“This President is trying to make us to look bad before the Liberian people. She needs to tell us clearly what she wants us to do with the TRC report and not present an ambiguous and inconclusive report to us. The President’s communication is indirect and confusing” argued Bong County Legislator George Mulbah.

“While on my feet, I move, if I can be seconded, that this report be rejected and that it should be sent back to the President because of its ambiguous, inconclusive and indirect nature, and that this body should request the President to do another communication explaining in clear terms her position on the TRC Implementation” Representative Garrison Yarlue of Simba County, whose motion saw a decisive moment in the TCR debate, argued before fellow lawmakers on Tuesday.

The lawmakers, in their Tuesday’s TRC deliberation, also accused the President of attempting to demonize them before the general public that they (lawmakers) are not serious about the TRC implementation and from all indications; it appears the President is uncomfortable with the lawmakers’ action.

Despite saying that her secret meeting was economic based and not TRC focused, inside sources from the meeting hinted this paper that the President’s Wednesday discussion was heavily focused on the TRC report, which was harshly bashed by the legislature. There’s no information as to whether lawmakers actually made any concessions in the meeting with the President on the TRC issue.

Our Legislative sources informed this paper that a couple of issues were also raised during the President’s closed door meeting with the Legislature’s leadership, including appealing to them for the speedy passage of certain crucial bills that she recently forwarded to that body for enactment.

An intense legislative debate recently ensued amongst lawmakers and stakeholders on the Millennium Challenge Compact (MCC), US4256.7million five year deal, which is expected to see the country generate surplus of cheap and affordable electricity, through the rehabilitation of the Mount Coffee Hydro, with the hope of expanding its energy producing capacity from 64mega watts to 88mega watts.

The MCC bill, amongst other things, also seeks to engender maintenance works on the country’s roads, as well as improving its road network, and the legislation is extremely vital for meeting the administration’s binding development constraints.

Going forward, our sources hinted, the President also pressed lawmakers to speedily pass a corresponding bill, also known as the 2015 Electricity Bill and or the Liberia Electricity Regulatory Commission (LERC), a new energy law that seeks to privatize the production of electricity in the country.

“The President is also pushing for an extension of the Special Sitting for the Legislature because we still have some crucial bills before this body and we will soon be leaving for the break” our informer coded.

Conclusively, our source also whispered that lawmakers may have made certain concessions with the President as their closed door meeting came hours following reports emerged at the Legislature that sitting fees for lawmakers’ six weeks Special Sitting has already arrived at the Capitol. There’re reports that each lawmaker is entitled to a handsome US$10,000, but those reports have not been indecently verified by the New Democrat.