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Liberia: Some Legislators to Boycott Monday's 2007 Opening Session

Liberian lawmakers open their 2007 legislative session Monday. Several issues are expected to play prominent during this session, including the decision by the National Bank of Liberia to print new Liberian money without some say consulting with the legislature. But for now, the top issue seems to be a push by some members of the House of Representatives to remove speaker Edwin Snowe. The speaker has accused the executive branch of government of bribing some members with five thousand U.S. dollars each to remove him. President Sirleaf’s government has denied any involvement.

Elijah Seah is a member of the House of Representatives and one of those spearheading the drive to remove the speaker. He explained why Speaker Snowe should be removed.

“First and foremost has to do with his attempts to initiate foreign policy on behalf of the Liberian government by recognizing Taiwan. The second thing he did was to go ahead and present a resolution that was passed by the lower house as it relates to mainland China. We felt that without the permit of the lower house to have taken that to the Chinese Embassy brought all of us into public disrepute. The third one has to do with his attempt, unilaterally, to include a Lebanese merchant on a parliamentary delegation to go to Doha, Qatar. We felt all of these attempts were intended to bring the House of Representatives into public disrepute,” Seah said.

Seah also said that part of the case against Speaker Snowe was his accusation that some members of the House of Representatives received bribe from the executive branch to influence their vote even before they thought about removing the speaker. But he denied he received a bribe from anyon.

“To that question I say absolutely no, we did not, and I did not receive bribe from anybody to remove Honorable Edwin Snowe Junior of District Five, Montserrado County. And I have no reason to receive bribe to make a decision that I’m convinced of,” he said.

Seah would not confirm or deny reports that one or two members of the House of Representatives have admitted receiving U.S. five thousand dollars as bribe to remove the speaker.

“Those who say they received bribes will have to answer for themselves. But the fact remains that the House of Representatives is resolved to remove Mr. Snowe despite all of his diversionary tactics. And so I’m making this clarion call to all Liberians and the international community that the decision of the Lower House is a decision that we are convinced that can redeem the integrity of the House of Representatives, and it is not influenced by anybody, by any means or whatsoever,” Seah said.

Seah said he and other petitioners would boycott Monday’s opening of the 2007 legislative session.

“Definitely we’re going to boycott that session, and we’re going to wait at a later time to inform the Liberian people as to where we stand on the matter. We’re boycotting the opening session because we believe he does not have the moral integrity to preside over us,” he said.

Seah described as rubbish suggestion by some that Speaker Snowe was being removed because he has stood up to the executive branch.

“What remains a fact is that Honorable Snowe tries to present himself in a way that tends to embarrass all of us. What we’ve been seen over time is that Mr. Snowe’s personal interest seeks to supersede the interest of the Liberian people vis-à-vis the House of Representatives, and this is why we think that he is an embarrassment to us,” Seah said.