Liberia is caught between a rock and a hard place as it strives to consolidate a young democracy after two successful postwar national elections.
But just on the eve of another important national election that could solidify or taint the 13 years peace gains, political wrangling at the National Legislature is bringing the country to its knees, to the extent that the Special Representative of the Secretary General, Farid Zarif, has informed the United Nations Security Council that the leadership squabble at the House of Representatives holds potentially serious consequences of “political wrangling” in the Legislature, such as a delay in adopting the national budget for the 2016-2017 period which includes the financing of the National Elections Commission and preparatory activities, including those related to security for the October 2017 presidential and legislative elections.The United Nations Envoy told the Security Council that the fight to unseat House Speaker Tyler which is now causing members of that august body to abandon their constitutional responsibilities should be viewed against the background of hardening socio-economic environment due to the worsening economic outlook which has prompted the introduction of austerity measures and revising downwards of the current year's budget and an 11 percent decrease in the proposed budget for the next year.
“In Liberia, as anywhere else, the prevention of conflict can only be effective in the context of broader social, political and economic transformations, and the respect for the rule of law,” Zarif said, expressing concern about the overall lack of progress on addressing the underlying causes of divisions and exclusion in Liberia.
“The failure to robustly pursue reconciliation and delays in structural changes, such as land reform and decentralization, raise a ‘red flag’ about future prospects for peace and security,” he pointed.
“There is a consensus among national actors that the next elections will be a critical test for Liberia's stability, democracy and development,” Mr. Zarif said, emphasizing that both the Government of Liberia and the international community must not lose sight of the still arduous path to sustainable peace in the country and the region, which “will require long-term robust engagement by all concerned, particularly by this august Council.”
Despite the red flag being raised by local and international stakeholders, members of the lower House of the Liberian Legislature have dug in their heels in an internal squabble that sees on end in sight, as the National Budget for fiscal year 2016/2017 lingers in the corridors of the Legislature unattended to.
According to financial pundits, the delay in the passage of the budget due to the ongoing impasse will hurt many development projects as well as preparation for the 2017 Presidential and Representative elections.
As a matter of fact, one month has elapsed in the budget implementation period as the squabble continues.
In order to find an amicable solution to the standoff, Grand Gedeh County Senator G. Alphonso Gaye is calling on the Inter-religious Council of Liberia, the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL), ECOWAS and the US Embassy to mediate in the crisis at the House of Representatives.
The Senator’s call is in reaction to the Senate’s decision to mediate in the current crisis at the House of Representatives.
Addressing a news conference at his Capitol Building office in Monrovia at the weekend, Senator Gaye observed that the Senate’s involvement in the mediation process at the lower House will further deepen and prolong the crisis.
He opined that the Senate lacks the moral standing to carryout genuine mediation to resolve the conflict at the House of Representatives because its leadership and some other senators have made themselves party to the ongoing conflict.
The Liberian Senate at an Executive Session constituted a six-member committee headed by Senate Pro-Tempore Amah Z. Jallah to intervene and help resolve the ongoing crisis among members of the House of Representatives.
The crisis is centered on a resolution reached by a splinter group of the lower House requesting House Speaker Alex Tyler to “recuse” himself from his position and presiding over plenary.
The resolution followed the criminal indictment of Tyler over his alleged involvement in a bribery scandal linked to the UK-based Sable Mining Company which was seeking to change some laws to access an iron ore mine in the country.