By Alva M. Wolokolie
“President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and her Vice President Joseph N. Boakai’s absence from the country have raised alarm to a serious security threat to the nation,” Gbarpolu County Senator Armah Jallah stated.
During the Senate’s 39th day sitting yesterday at the Capitol Building, Sen. Jallah told reporters that it would be prudent for the President and the Vice President to coordinate their schedules concerning foreign trips instead of leaving the country simultaneously.
President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf departed the country on Sunday, June 16, 2013 to participate at the invitation of British Prime Minister David Cameron, in a luncheon meeting of the G8 Summit in Lough Erne, Northern Ireland – the first time that Liberia has been included among African leaders invited to the Summit of the world’s leading economies.
In her communication to the Plenary of the Liberian Senate, the President told that August Body that during her absence from the country, the Minister of State for Presidential Affairs, Mr. Edward B. McClain, Jr., will serve as Chair of the Cabinet in consultation with Vice President Joseph N. Boakai.
But in contrast, Vice President Joseph N. Boakai who the President referred to in her letter to the Senate that he would be in consultation with Mr. McClain, via telephone has already left the country too for the United States of America. He is currently in Philadelphia at the invitation of “Union of Liberians” in that state.
It has been customary that communications from the President, Vice President and even the Senators are read and only noted to form part of the Senate’s documents but it was unprecedented yesterday when Sen. Jallah made a motion that the VP’s communication should be opened for discussion.
There were two sides of the debate. Some Senators including Sen. Cletus Wortoson of Grand Kru County were in support of Sen. Jallah’s motion while others like Isaac W. Nyenabo of Grand Gedeh spoke against the motion and said there is nothing in the VP’s letter to be discussed.
After several amendments were made to Sen. Jallah’s motion, which he rejected, the Senate Pro-Tempore decided that a vote should be taken to conclude the discussion. And so was it; eight (8) Senators voted for while another eight (8) went against the motion that the letter should not be opened for discussion.
Instead of the Pro-Tempore breaking the tie as it is written in their rules, he decided to take hold of the motion and announced that the matter will be taken to executive session.
Speaking outside of the chambers, Sen. Jallah said he decided to raise the issue because it poses security risk to the country for the two leaders to depart the country at the same time.
“The VP and the President leaving at the same time has security implication. What if there is a disaster like flood in the country; who do we look up to address the issue? They should coordinate and leave one at a time and not together,” Sen. Jallah intimated.
Although the matter was taken to executive, Sen. Jallah however said that he would do an official communication to the Senate’s plenary so that the issue would be discussed to avoid future occurrence.