Though House Speaker J. Alex Tyler said during the opening ceremony of the House recently that the Legislature will be robust at its second session, the House has, however, been the first to concur with President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf in committing Liberia for peacekeeping in Mali, while the Liberian Senate has placed the concurrence on ice pending the appearance before it of the Ministers of Justice, Defense and Finance.

President Sirleaf came under criticisms recently by many Liberians including some members of the Legislature for not meeting the approval of that body before making said commitment.

But, the Liberian leader has written both Houses informing them of her decision and requesting their concurrence to enable her formalize the pledge and initiate discussion with bilateral partners whom she said have promised to provide logistical support for participating West African troops.

In her communication, President Sirleaf noted that her pledge is based on the recommendation of the Ministries of Foreign Affairs and National Defense, who had participated in the prior Security Council Meeting, that Liberia would contribute troops from the AFL to the ECOWAS deployment.

She said giving the small size of the country; the pledge consisted of only a platoon equal to approximately 46 persons that would have to be integrated into the battalion troop contributing country.

The Liberian leader said it is the right decision given the support which neighborly states provided to Liberia to bring the years of conflict to an end, noting that it will also provide an opportunity for additional training and experience for the AFL.

The letter from the President dated January 21, 2013, was read during yesterday’s sitting at both Houses with the Lower House being the first to concur following the appearance of Defense Minister Brownie Samukai behind closed doors.

The In Profile reliably learnt from inside sources yesterday at the Capitol Building that huge amount of money intended to influence lawmakers to allow personnel of the AFL to go to Mali is likely to have been passed under the table.

“The public should not be surprised that controversial bills and reform laws including those of the National Oil Company of Liberia may be influenced by cash inducement at the disgust of  the citizens,”  a well seated source claimed.

At the Liberian Senate, the letter sparked serious debate with some lawmakers including the Senate Committee Chairman on National Defense and Intelligence, Senator Prince Y. Johnson of Nimba, Isaac Nyenabo of Grand Gedeh and Joseph Nagbe of Sinoe stressing the need for the decision of the President to be accepted based on the fact that other countries including Mail also contributed to such during the Liberian civil crisis.

Other Senators including Henry Yallah of Bong County argued that the country does not have much troops especially the AFL has not been through combat like what is ongoing in Mali.
Senate Pro-Tempore Gbehzohngar M. Findley said the decision to send troops to Mali is not wrong, but stressed that the welfare of the soldiers must be looked at. He recommended that the Ministers of Justice, Defense and Finance appear before the Plenary to explain the judicial, security and financial implications of the decision, something   the Plenary accepted.

Meanwhile, the three ministers are expected to appear before the body next week following which a decision will be reached.