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Liberia's Embattled Speaker Explains Reasons for Resigning

The embattled speaker of Liberia’s House of Representatives, Edwin Snowe, resigned Thursday, nearly a month after he was ousted by a majority renegade members of the House. But a Supreme Court ruling last month said the speaker’s removal was illegal and unconstitutional.

Speaker Snowe said he resigned to uphold the rule of law.

“As you are aware, on the 29th of January, the Supreme Court ruled that the members of the House of Representatives meeting in Virginia [Liberia] were meeting there illegally and that it was unconstitutional. And I feel that as head of the first branch of government that should be making laws should not be disrespecting the Supreme Court like the president and other members are doing. So we did what was prudent to us to have stepped down and allow them to do what they want to do,” he said.

Snowe rejected claims that he was forced to resign because a majority of the members of the House of Representatives no longer had confidence in him, including the few that had supported him from the onset.

“Well, James, I think it is the other way around now. They no longer enjoy my confidence, and what was prudent to do was to leave them alone. But again like I said, it was not just a matter of being speaker. I would have gone there, and of course there are issues there that need to be challenged. For example, it is clear that the executive branch of government spent at least $5,000 (U.S) on each lawmaker to sign the resolution to have us removed from office. But we felt that going there for any reason, contrary to the opinion of the Supreme Court, would be a defeat to our judicial system,” Snowe said.

The former speaker said he had proof that some members of the House of Representatives received money from the executive branch to vote him out of office.

“I will take this time to challenge, and I repeat, I take this time to challenge the executive to come clean and conduct an independent investigation into the bribery allegations. Let the world see how clean they are, if they are clean. There are documents available signed by Richard Saah Gbollie, the representative from Margibi County who one time served as deputy director of police, Samuel Bondo [Bong County], and he signed the document admitting that he was given $5,000 (U.S.) to have the speaker removed,” he said.

Snowe also named Representative Kettehkumehn Murray of admitting to receiving $5,000 (U.S.) each to vote in favor of a resolution to oust him.

Snowe rejected the suggestion that he stepped down because he was being investigated for corruption. “Then we are putting the case before the fact. A man is innocent until proven guilty,” he said. "And I’m committed to the due process of law. Whenever I’m called to court and I will answer the charges, and if I’m found guilty, the court should take its course."

Snowe said he will not join the rest of the lawmakers who have been meeting in Virginia outside the capital, Monrovia, until the necessary constitutional provisions are satisfied that would give legal backing for the legislature to meet in Virginia.

“I’m going to be holding a consultative meeting this weekend, and if my people so desire that I must go to Virginia to do their work, then I will have to make a personal decision, and my decision will be to live up to the rule of law. If they agree with me, then we will stay on the side of the rule of law, and if there is any action taken by the lawmakers meeting in Virginia, the Supreme Court will now have to come in again,” Snowe said.