19 November 2012

Liberia: Ellen Boycotts Dialogue With House

President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf reportedly boycotted a meeting with Speaker J. Alex Tyler and members of the House of Representatives last Friday at the Capitol.

But the Executive Mansion Public Affairs office denied reports that the President boycotted the meeting with the Speaker and members of the House.

The Second Deputy Presidential Press Secretary Christopher Sellee told The NEWS that the President did not boycott the meeting because the venue wasn't decided.

He said the President is willing to meet with members of the House at anytime once a venue is decided upon.

The meeting intended for a dialogue between the Executive Branch and House of Representatives was organized by the Chairman of the Traditional Council of Liberia, Chief Zanza Kanwor.

In response to the traditional leader's call for a dialogue, Speaker Tyler and other members of the House's leadership were seated at the Capitol awaiting the arrival of President Johnson-Sirleaf on Friday. However, President Sirleaf failed to show up for the meeting. No official reasons were given for the apparent boycott.

A source hinted this paper that President Sirleaf did not attend the Friday's meeting due to the venue which was not indicated.

According to our source, President Sirleaf had suggested to Chief Zanza Kawor for the meeting to be held at the Centennial Memorial Pavilion but the House's leadership insisted that such discussion should be held at the seat of the Legislature.

Following the failed meeting, House Speaker Alex Tyler told reporters that the meeting wasn't held due to the absence of President Sirleaf.

Speaker Tyler said he and his colleagues do not have problem meeting the President but maintained that such meeting should take place on the grounds of the Capitol. No new date has been set for the meeting.

The failed meeting comes in the wake of prolonged misunderstanding between Executive Branch of government and the Legislature.

President Johnson Sirleaf informed a gathering in the United States of America during her visit last September that the Legislature was increasing their budget on their own, adding "they took it; I did not give it to them".

This comment infuriated members of the House of Representatives with Speaker Tyler requesting President Sirleaf to retract her comments against that august body. However, the Liberian leader is yet to retract her statement.

Also, relationship between House Speaker Tyler and President Sirleaf appeared strained amid claims by Bomi County Senator Sando Johnson that the Speaker was "planning to overthrow" the President.

The Speaker's office rebuffed the allegation and termed it "devilish assertion." Similarly, relationship between President Sirleaf and District #6 Representative Edwin Snowe has turned soured weeks after Mr. Snowe accused Mr. Robert Sirleaf, Chairman of the National Oil Company of Liberia and also son of the president of dual citizenship.

At a press conference, Mr. Sirleaf denied claims by Rep. Snowe that he has a Liberian and American passports. The NOCAL Chairman said he was issued an American Visa during a visit to the United States in April. He argued that American citizens do not need visa to travel to their own country.

Rep. Snowe was a key member of President Sirleaf's re-election campaign team who strongly supported the President.

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