In Liberia House speaker faces ouster over bribery charges

Since the allegations surfaced, at least half of the members of Liberia's House of Representatives have refused to recognise Tyler's authority. 

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Liberia house speaker faces ouster over bribery charges play

Liberia's parliamentary speaker Alex Tyler (C) leaves the Justice Court on May 25, 2016 in Monrovia 

(AFP/File Zoom Dosso)
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Liberian lawmakers calling for the resignation of the country's parliamentary speaker said Tuesday they were confident they could remove him from office while he faces bribery allegations, with parliament split in two over the affair.

Speaker of the lower house Alex Tyler has been on bail since his May arrest by police investigating a bribe worth $75,000 he allegedly took to facilitate the passage of legislation favourable to a British mining firm.

"We are still soliciting signatures and very soon we will have the number required to remove the speaker," Hans Barchue, presiding officer of the anti-Tyler group, said during the session.

Since the allegations surfaced, at least half of the members of Liberia's House of Representatives have refused to recognise Tyler's authority. 

The anti-Tyler grouping held their first parliamentary session without him or his supporters on Thursday, with 34 of the chamber's 73 representatives present.

Those agitating to remove him drew 36 deputies to Tuesday's session, held at a different time and away from the main chamber, with the first order of business getting him to step down.

According to campaign group Global Witness, Tyler was a key player in pushing through a 2010 law allowing the mining minister to declare some mining concessions "non-bidding" areas that could be handed out without a tender process.

Global Witness said the payment was made to Tyler by London-listed Sable Mining in return for his help, with the aim of securing potentially lucrative iron ore deposits.

"We  cannot keep a speaker who is indicted for corruption. That is unacceptable," Barchue said during Thursday's meeting.

Tyler is a member of the ruling Unity Party of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, and despite being investigated by a taskforce convened by Johnson herself the speaker has refused leave his post.

Tyler had tried to prevent the lawmakers from holding the extraordinary session with an appeal to the Supreme Court on Monday, which swiftly turned him down.

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