25 February 2013

Liberia: Lawmakers Want Kpaan, Broh Alive

Photo: New Democrat
City Mayor Mary Broh celebrating Liberia'’s debt waiver.

Despite President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf's suspension of Acting Monrovia City Mayor Mary Broh and Montserrado County Superintendent Grace Kpaan on Friday, members of the House of Representatives seem resolved to have the two officials arrested and imprisoned for 30 days for obstructing the rule of law.

"Distinguished Colleagues, it has been moved and seconded that the City Mayor of Monrovia Madam Mary Broh and the Superintendent of Montserrado County be ordered arrested by the Sergeant-at-Arm and incarcerated for thirty days, and furthermore that this body communicates with the President of the Republic of Liberia on the issues as raised in the motion which is that the two individuals are no more governmental materials," said House Speaker Alex Tyler on Friday, February 22, 2013 as he read a motion filed by Bong County Representative George Mulbah, calling for the arrest and incarceration of the two female officials.

Members of the House unanimously voted 46-0 with 1 abstention to impose stringent fines, including a month incarceration for Superintendent Kpaan and Acting Mayor Broh to serve as deterrence to anyone, contemplating to defy the First Branch of the Liberian Government. The House's motion followed the immediate suspension of both Mayor Broh and Superintendent Kpaan by President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf.

Presidential Press Secretary Jerolinmek Piah confirmed the suspension on Friday on a local radio that the decision was reached following discussion between President Sirleaf and Vice President Joseph Boakai.

Narrating the happenings before members of that August body as they unfolded on Thursday at the Monrovia Central Prison, the Sergeant-at-Arms of the House of Representatives Brigadier General Martin Johnson said when he took the Prisoner to the Monrovia Central Prison, he was obstructed by Acting Monrovia City Mayor Mary Broh.

According to Gen. Johnson, Mayor Broh along with group of women, who had gathered outside the prison compound got into a scuffle with him, and in the process, the Acting Mayor snatched Supt. Kpaan away.

"I asked her out of the car [and] by the time she got off the car; I saw Mary Broh coming with group of people from the opposite direction. She came and held the lady by her arm and said 'let's go," said the Sergeant-at-Arm.

Gen. Johnson: "In that process, I was trying to stop her from moving, and another group came from behind me, started hitting me from the back, to the extent they cut my uniform button. In that process they overpowered me and they took her [Supt. Grace Kpaan] and put her in Mary Broh's pickup."

Montserrado County Representative Acarous Gray has described the behavior of Madam Broh, assisted by other prominent, including Gender and Development Minister Julia Duncan Cassell as a gross affront to the august body, noting that it undermines the principle of coordination in government and the rule of law.

Gray said no one is above the law in Liberia, citing instances where individuals in positions of public trust were arrested, while serving their respective positions, specifically, citing the arrest of then deputy speaker Tokpa Mulbah in the 52nd Legislature by state security.

"I could remember vividly that the 52nd Legislature could have resisted, but our distinguished Speaker, you were then the Speaker; your intervention was for the sitting deputy speaker to turn himself over in order to protect the rule of law," Rep. Gray reminded.

Also speaking during the emergency session called by Plenary, Representative Richard Tingba of Nimba County said he had long ago predicted that if Madam Broh's continued disrespect for members of the legislature was not checkmated, she could lead the country into chaos.

Rep. Tingba said the decision to incarcerate the Montserrado County Superintendent was in keeping with law. He condemned the action by Broh which was abetted by many other influential women.

"We have law and order in this country; we acted with respect to Article 44 of the Liberian Constitution. These laws are on the book and if we are to respect the rule of law in this country, then people that are appointed to act in public offices, must live within the confines of the law," he stressed.

Lofa County Representative Eugene Fallah Kparkar, who was somehow relaxed with Superintendent Kpaan on Thursday, seemed outraged by the action of Madam Broh, adding that she went too far in her disrespect.

"We stand united in respect of the sanctity and credibility of this chamber. This chamber is an embodiment of the Liberian people and the Constitution is crystal clear that power is inherent in the people," Fallah Kparkar.

Meanwhile, the Sergeant-At-Arm at the House is yet to establish the whereabouts of the two suspended officials to execute the re-arrest order from the Plenary

According to the Director of Press in the House Isaac Redd, Madam Broh had on Saturday, agreed to cooperate by turning herself in, but did not say when or where.

Mr. Redd said the House of Representatives has formally requested the Ministry of Justice to provide police to track the movements and whereabouts of the suspended officials to bring them before the law, but the ministry is yet respond to the request.

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