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Who Dishonored The Liberian Senate’s Plenary? -Pro-temp Chie, Executive Branch?

By Bill W. Cooper
Many legislative observers were dumbfounded when Finance Minister Samuel Tweah and the Liberia Maritime Authority (LiMA) Commissioner General, Eugene Nagbe yesterday temporarily halted plenary’s discussions in the sacred chambers of the Liberian Senate.

Right before the eyes of the sergeant-at-arms and the elders of that august Liberian Senate, the two top government officials walked in its plenary uninterrupted and moved to the President Pro-tempore, Albert Chie who was presiding over what many who were witnessing perceived to have been serious national issues.

The scene created on June 15, 2023 saw Chie being controlled by presidential nominees whom the body confirmed but subjected the plenary to their dictates as if they now work at their will and pleasure; an act which was unprecedented according to legislative pundits including the very lawmakers.

The sight of Chie abruptly leave the chamber without any courtesy to his colleagues, created a situation which angered several of the lawmaker thereby plunging the plenary into uproars and stalling the entire session.

The appearance of Minister Tweah and Commissioner Nagbe which was later understood as being not on matters of emergency or for any information sharing bordering on security, triggered a heated exchange among the senators.

Some opposition Senators including Abraham Darius Dillon, Nyonblee Karngar-Lawrence, Jonathan Boy Charles Sogbie, Jonathan Kiapay, and Daniel Naatehn, among others stated that there was a hidden motive behind both Tweah and Nagbe’s appearance especially so that the CBL was expected to appear.

However, when Montserrado County Senator and the Senate Committee Chair on Executive, Saah Jospeh who was left to preside tried to calm the tense situation by informing his colleagues that the presence of Tweah and Nagbe was a mere visit, many of the senators did not buy the explanation and demanded more information on the matter.

An angry looking Sen. Dillon said, “What is this place turning into. It is that we vote this government out in order to restore sanity to this chambers where ministers and other government officials will respect us.”
He complained, “Because this thing where in CDC ministers will just walk in and cause distraction while discussing issues of national concerns is getting out of hands and there is a need for us to ensure that this act stops completely.”

According to him, the actions by the CDC ministers are an act of undermining the Senate’s oversight role, and wondered, “Can this be done to the Supreme Court or even with President Weah? But only in this Senate said is happening.”

In reaction, CDC senators also counter argued that this it was not the first time for such incident thus citing some instances that occurred during the regime of former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.

Senator Jospeh Jallah and other CDC senators defended that it was normal for a minister to enters into any legislative gathering, whether in chamber or in a committee room and ask a participating lawmaker for a private audience in the interest of national or party concern.

However, the situation which lasted for over 30 minutes was later resolved upon the return of Pro-temp Chie who then sounds his gavel of which the Senators then continued their regular business session for the day.

The sudden appearance of Minister Tweah and Commissioner Nagbe in the Senate’s plenary session highlights the ongoing tension between the Senate and the Executive branch as the country’s geared towards to the October 10, 2023 Presidential and Legislative elections.

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