Bad Political Precedence in the NTLA
By: C. Winnie Saywah
Posted November 13, 2003
What seems to be a bad political precedence is said to be unfolding at the National Transitional Legislative Assembly (NTLA), as the body has refused to honor the ECOWAS’ Special Representative’s request to proceed with the swearing-in of Mr. Joseph N. Cornomia as the representative of Bong along with eight others expected to be inducted to form part of the NTLA on tomorrow.
During their regular session yesterday, a communication from the Special Representative of the Executive Secretary of ECOWAS, Francis Blain requested the NTLA to swear in nine counties representatives who according to him had reached an agreement to allow one of its two representatives to fill the one slot allotted to them by the Accra Accord.
But when the communication was read by the NTLA Chief Clerk James Kaba, he intentionally left out Mr. Cornomia’s name and when questioned by Rep. Charles Clarke as to how many names were sent by ECOWAS, he said, the names were nine but he was mandated by the presiding not to have it announced since there were protests from some citizens that they had not resolved to naming Mr. Cornomia as their representative.
The issue which caused a stir among lawmakers was later calmed by Speaker George Dweh who then instructed the Chief Clerk to read the ECOWAS’ communication along with the protests from the Bong citizens.
After the reading, several representatives including Charles Clarke, Stanley Kparkillen and Juah argued that the body was not mandated to solve disputes.
They contended that ECOWAS’ facilitators were to receive protests if any, and not them because the nullification of the counties' representatives was not their making and that if they are to dishonor the request of the peace facilitators who were clothed with such authority that would be wealthy and bring them to disrepute.
The protests which were from the office of the Superintendent of Bong County and the Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy (LURD) read that the issue of Mr. Cornomia has not been resolved and if he is inducted to represent the county as enlisted by the Chief Mediator, it will be like imposing him on them and that he has not visited his people for the last two years therefore he will not fully address nor push forward their plights. The protests from LURD was signed by one of the NTLA members, Mayama Jaleiba and the other from the Superintendent was signed by one David Gblah.
However, Rep. Sando Johnson who then moved that with the exclusion of Mr. Cornomia the rest of the other counties representatives listed be inducted on Thursday was seconded and when the votes were tested, 22 lawmakers voted in favor while 18 opposed the motion. Therefore Speaker Dweh ruled that Mr. Cornomia induction be suspended until their county can be convinced to sent a representative.
According to the communication from Mr. Blain those to be sworn in are: Dr. Frederick F. Gbegbe for Lofa County, Mrs. Clarice Alpha Jah, Margibi; Mr. Joseph N. Cornomia, Bong County; Mr. Eddison T. Vaanii Gbana, Grand Cape Mount County; Mr. A. Nyanpan Saytue, River Gee county; Hon. Josephus Saye Dokie, Nimba County.
Others are Hon. Julius S. Parker, Montserrado county; Mr. George D. Moore, River Cess county; and Mr. Nathaniel K. Innis of Grand Bassa County.
Meanwhile, a pro-democracy organization the citizens organized for good governance says its attention has been drawn to the suspension of the induction of Mr. Cornomia.
The group said the protests were written on November 5 and copies which sent to ECOWAS before being served that body, were resolved by the ECOWAS teams before same were sent to the NTLA on November 10.
They stressed that the issues were trashed out by the ECOWAS and overruled therefore they see no need that the NTLA obstruct the swearing in of Mr. Cornomia.
It can be recalled that on Monday, six members of the counties expecting to be inducted as representatives to the NTLA were turned back because the honorable body said they had not received any communication from the ECOWAS Team on the mediation of the country peace process.
Now that the ECOWAS mediating team has sent the relevant document for action by the body, they are again making decision contrary to their statement when it comes to the induction of the counties representation to the NTLA.