19 November 2012

Liberia: Standoff Over Meeting Venue

A mediation meeting between the Executive Branch of Government and the House of Representatives led by National Traditional Council Chair Chief Zanzan Karwor failed to take off Friday due to lack of agreement on a venue.

A New Dawn source hinted that President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf had earlier recommended that the meeting be held at the Centennial Pavilion on Ashmun Street in central Monrovia, but the request was turned down by members of the Liberian Legislature, who insisted that it should be at the Capitol, the official seat of the Legislature.

The Capitol was a busy scene Friday with several lawmakers in groups discussing whether the President's request should or should not be accepted.

In an effort to calm the bad blood that has developed between the two branches of government as the result of a reported statement made in the United States by President Sirleaf that members of the 53rd Liberian Legislature prioritize self interest against the general well being of the citizenry, which lawmakers here have taken unkindly, Chief Karwor along with other chiefs Friday were busied moving between the Capitol and the Foreign Ministry where the President currently has her official office to bring both parties on a round table.

Chief Kawor, who refused to speak to the press, was vividly disappointed as he left Capitol without achieving his peace mission.

House Speaker Alex Tyler told reporters that the expected meeting between them and the Executive was requested by President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, days after she held similar meeting with the Senate last week.

"I got a call from Chief Kawor that the President wanted to meet with members of National Legislature in response to the chief's request; I called an emergency meeting of members of the House leadership and other lawmakers, who were present to inform them about the President's request, but for some strange reasons the President did not attend."

Though speaker Tyler failed to explain what he meant when he said "strange reason", he insisted that there is no problem between the lower House and the Executive.

However, argued that the Capitol is the official seat of the Liberian Legislature so any issue that has to do with national matter should be done there.

"To the best of my knowledge, this is the official seating of the Legislature and I think if we have any meeting, we should meet here", said Tyler, who had issued a statement earlier calling on the President to retract her comments made in America against members of the Legislature.

Speaker Tyler said since the House issued the statement, he has never met or spoken with President Sirleaf, but stressed: "In the interest of peace and our coordination, she needs to do so; no one person is above this country so in our understanding of government, we think that is how it should work."

"There is no wrangling here in a democracy such as ours; you expect that there will be some disagreement on issues; it doesn't mean we are fighting or fussing; we will always have some disagreement; at times, the house will agree with the President and the Senate might take another position; that is the way it works in our democracy", he added

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