Amid Tight Security, The National Transitional Legislative Assembly Elects New Leaders


By Josephus Moses Gray
Monrovia, Liberia


The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia
March 19, 2005


The National Transitional Legislative Assembly (NTLA) on March 17th went to the polls to elect another speaker and a deputy to administer the affairs of that body pending the lifting of the suspension of the Speaker George Dweh and deputy speaker Eddington Varmah including two other colleagues. The elected officials are just care takers while Messrs Dweh and Varmah serve their suspension.

According to dispatch from the Capitol Building, the seat of the first Branch of Government, Representatives George Koukou, a strong supporter of former President Charles Taylor and stalwart of the National Patriotic Party (NPP) was elected acting Speaker. He is the brain behind the suspension of Speaker Dweh.

He hails from Nimba County while he also serves similar position under the brutal Taylor regime for six years. His principal deputy, David Gbala hails from Grand Gedeh County. He was one of the several persons imprisoned by former President Charles Taylor on charges of treason.

The election took place amid tight security provided by the Liberian National Police force and the officers of the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL). The security beef-up by UNMIL comes in the wake of statement suspended speaker that he would challenge his removal from office on the alleged charges of corruption as well as administrative and financial mal-practices by going to work.

During the election process for acting speaker, George Koukou defeated Fayiah Saah Gbole, with 39 to four votes, while for the acting deputy speaker position, Gbala received 34 votes defeating three other colleagues including Dr. Mohammad Sheriff (five votes); Musa Balloh and Yarfar Vargbeh (three votes each).

The Assembly on Monday suspended Speaker Dweh, Deputy Varmah and chairmen of rules & Orders and Ways, Means and finance (Edward Kpulun and Tapple Doe) on charges of corruption.

However, the embattled leadership has rejected the charges against it, accusing the plenary of doing great injustice by failing to grant them the opportunity to critically examine the Special Committee’s report. The Special Committee is headed by Representative Isaac Mannah, Chairman of the Liberia Unification Party (LUP).