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Embattled Liberian House Speaker Steps Down


The speaker of Liberia's House of Representatives resigned Thursday, following a boycott of his legislative sessions by many lawmakers. Jordan Davis reports from VOA's regional bureau in Dakar.

For weeks, Edwin Snowe has presided over a small minority of lawmakers. His opponents, who have been meeting separately in the suburbs of the capital Monrovia, voted last month to impeach Snowe.

The country's Supreme Court overturned that decision two weeks ago, and ordered the two groups of lawmakers to reunite.

But spokesman James Jensen says Snowe felt there was no way he could continue in his job.

"His stated reason is that the House of Representatives announced it has no confidence in him and he has no confidence in them," said James Jensen.

Snowe allies say he will decide in the next day or two whether he will resign from the House entirely.

Many in the legislature voted to remove Snowe from office for allegedly undermining Liberian diplomacy by meeting with Taiwanese officials last year. Liberia recognizes the Chinese government in Beijing, which claims self-ruled Taiwan is part of its own territory.

Snowe accused legislators supporting his ouster of accepting bribes.

The former speaker is an opponent of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.

Several weeks ago, Ms. Sirleaf made her annual speech setting out her agenda for the year before the group of lawmakers boycotting Snowe.

Observers say divisions within the House of Representatives have brought legislative work to a halt.

Prince Collins is a journalist based in Monrovia.

"There is a serious crisis and it is indeed deepening by the day, because, at current, there are so many bills, so many laws that need to be passed," said Prince Collins. "Within the next 90 days, the lawmakers will need to elect a new speaker. But this will indeed take some time."

Liberia is trying to rebuild itself with a new constitution after a devastating, 14-year civil war.

Snowe was an ally of former Liberian leader Charles Taylor, who is awaiting trial for war crimes in The Hague.

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