20 June 2012

Liberia: Ellen Surfaces At Senate - to Beg for Budget, Mary Broh?

Exactly what prompted President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf's unannounced visit at the Capitol Tuesday afternoon after members of the Liberian Senate had concluded regular session is perhaps the greatest mystery for the entire week and beyond.

The Liberian leader paid a surprised visit to the Senate and held closed doors meeting, lasting three hours and thirty minutes with members of the upper House, which later turned to a luncheon for the Senators.

At the climax of the closed doors luncheon, Senate President Pro-tempore Gbezongar Milton Findley and President Sirleaf declined to provide detail to the media, only replying "No Comment."

The luncheon meeting, which was held in the Executive lunchroom of Vice President Joseph Boakai, was attended by all Senators present in Tuesday's session, but Maryland County Senator H. Dan Morias, who chose to stay in his office, while the lucrative meeting with the Chief Executive was held.

Senators, who were in the company of President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf include, Pro-Tempore Gbezongar Milton Findley of Grand Bassa; Clarice Jah and Oscar Cooper of Margibi respectively; John Whitfield of Grand Bassa; John Ballout of Maryland; Joyce Musu Freeman of Montserrado; Sumo Kupee of Lofa and Ahmed Jallah of Gbarpolu counties, respectively.

Others include Jewel Howard-Taylor of Bong; Isaac Nyenabo and Alphonso Gaye of Grand Gedeh; Fredrick Cheru of River Gee; Cletus Wotorson of Grand Kru; Abel Massaley of Grand Cape Mount; Jay Jonathan Barney of Rivercess, and Lahai Lassana and Sando Johnson of Bomi, among others.

Though the heads of both branches of government shunned the media, reports emanating in the corridors of the Capitol Building say the unofficial visit of President Sirleaf was intended to smoother edges with members of the Senate following their recent "vote of no confidence" declared against Acting Monrovia City Mayor Mary Broh on one hand, and the speedy passage of the 2012/13 draft national budget on the other.

About two weeks ago, the Senate overwhelmingly declared 'vote of no confidence' in Madam Broh for what has been termed her ruthless behaviors toward peaceful citizens under the guise of cleaning Monrovia and its environs.

This paper gathered that the tough-going Mayor, who is a confidante of President Sirleaf, has been intensively lobbying to maintain her well-paid post at the Monrovia City Corporation (MCC).

Regarding the draft national budget, Senate Pro-tempore Findley had earlier criticized the document, noting that the budget lacks policy statement. Findley described the draft budget as "bundles of papers with huge figures, lacking interpretations".

President Sirleaf is said to have prayed the Senators to enact the budget into law, which according to inside sources, she assured will protect both the interest of the Senate and the Executive.

This paper could not clearly establish whether both parties reached an agreeable arrangement, but deducing from the expressions on the faces of the attendees, including the President herself, who was very lively and beaming with smile, it may have ended with a win-win deal.

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