27 December 2012

Liberia: Speaker Claims Vision Discrimination

When this paper reported on December 11 that lawmakers shunned the Vision 2030 conference in Gbarnga, central Liberia, reasons behind their mass absenteeism were slow in coming until this week when Speaker Alex Tyler affirmed in a local FM radio interview that the National Legislature as a body was not invited to the conference.

Speaker Tyler, in an interview with Dr. KetteKumeh Murray on Lux FM, in fact, claimed the august body had no input in the formulation of the Vision 2030 document, though the national visioning committee held consultations with citizens in some 156 districts throughout Liberia and the Diaspora ahead of the vision launch conference in Gbarnga.

Most of the over 100 members of the bicameral legislature were conspicuously absent December 10 at the opening program to launch Vision 2030 in Gbarnga, as barely four senators including President Pro temper Gbezohngar Findley and nine members of the lower house were present.

Acting Chief Justice Francis Korkpor, several other ranking government officials, members of the diplomatic corps and citizens of all walks of life graced the occasion.

Speaker Tyler, who was absent at the Vision conference in Gbarnga, repeatedly said in the radio interview that the national legislature was not invited to the conference, apparently making their absenteeism deliberate.

But, a member of Vision 2030 program committee, informed journalists then in Gbarnga that invitations for the program were sent to all lawmakers; and Sen. John Whitfield (Grand Bassa) affirmed the statement in a mobile phone conversation with reporters.

The vision policy is a roadmap for Liberia to tread in becoming a middle-income country by 2030.

According President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the policy requires all Liberians "to begin the task of putting aside those things that have kept us divided. We must now move to a better place, a place of national solidarity and national progress."

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