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05.01.2006 General News

Ghana, Liberia Parliaments hold joint session

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Accra, Jan. 5, GNA - The Minority Leader, Mr Alban Bagbin on Thursday cautioned Members of the National Assembly of Liberia to sustain the current peace in their country to ensure their continued existence as Members of the Legislature and of the nation. He urged them to approach their work in the spirit of compromise, tolerance and with a listening ear to ensure the stability of Liberia, which has just gone through a successful election after years of conflict, which destroyed lives and property.

Mr Bagbin was contributing to a statement made by Mr Felix Owusu-Adjapong, Minister of Parliamentary Affairs in Parliament during a special joint session of the Parliaments of Ghana and Liberia at Parliament House in Accra.

Earlier, Mr Bagbin had moved a motion to suspend the Standing Orders of the House to allow the Members from Liberia to take part in the proceedings since under the Standing Orders of Ghana's Parliament they were deemed as strangers.

The joint session formed part of an orientation programme for members of the Liberian Legislative Assembly, who are in Accra to undergo some training in parliamentary procedures. Mr Bagbin said if members of the Liberian National Assembly took an acrimonious and antagonistic stance in their approach to work in the House division was likely to result with its attendant conflicts and a hindrance to Africa's development.

He said Ghana was ever ready to support the development of democracy in Liberia.

Mr Owusu-Adjapong, in his statement, touched on the duties of a Member of Parliament and said the Members should see themselves as agents of democracy by ensuring strict scrutiny of the functions of the Executive and the budgets the Government would present to them for approval.

He said the Members should also make use of the Committees of Parliament to make meaningful contributions to the work in the House. He said democracy was expensive and it was important that members were assisted with all the necessary facilities such as libraries, vehicles and given reasonable remuneration to sustain democratic governance.

Mr Edward Doe- Adjaho, NDC-Avenor, in a statement on the rules and the Standing Orders of Parliament, said it was wrong for Members to use insulting, offensive and blasphemous language on the floor of the House. Some Members of the Liberian Assembly, who contributed to the statements, thanked Ghanaians for supporting them during their crisis, recent elections which elected them as MPs.

Madam Joyce M. Freeman of the Congress For Democratic Change said she would put to use what she has observed during the joint session. I am not a warlord, but a freedom fighter - Johnson Mr Prince Yormi Johnson, a Senator of the Liberian National Assembly on Thursday said Liberians should come together as one people to consolidate the peace and tranquillity prevailing in the country now.

He said one cannot say, that, "the final peace has come until we commit ourselves to unite and forge ahead in re-building our country." Mr Johnson was the founder of the Independent National Patriotic Front, which fought a ten-year civil-war with the National Patriotic Front of Charles Taylor and the government forces led by former President, Samuel Doe said this in an interview with the Ghana News Agency when the Liberian National Assembly held its first session with their Ghanaian counterpart in Parliament.

Mr Johnson who prefers to be called a "Freedom Fighter" said Liberians are fed-up with the fighting and that the Truce and Reconciliation Commission of Liberia would have to speed up its work to heal old wounds.

"I am a freedom fighter because I had to defend my people against the government who massacred my people and so I had to use the same gun language to defend my people."

He said Liberia is facing many problems, notably, the provision pipe-borne water, schools, hospitals, roads, reconstruction of broken down infrastructure as well as the repatriation of all Liberians to the motherland.

"There are only two universities in Liberia, which cannot accommodate the numerous young Liberians willing to go back to school to enhance themselves and I would take this opportunity to urge the international community to help educate the people of Liberia. "Thousands of Liberians are also internally displaced and I expect our government to assist them re-build their homes, especially in the rural areas to enable them go about their daily activities." Mr Johnson said with the goodwill of the international community, Liberia would be able to stand on its feet again.

On the UN's indictment of former President, Charles Taylor, Mr Johnson said, "As at now, Liberians have many problems to solve to even think of Charles Taylor."

"Those indicted by the UN cannot go free and since Liberia is a founding member of the UN they would always abide by its rules and laws."

Mr Johnson said the future of Liberia is very bright and the potential among the youth to develop their country is high. On his presidential ambitions, Mr Johnson said he has a job to do as a senator and that; "for now I would have to finish the job assigned me and becoming a president would have to wait for the future."

"I am very popular and I had the highest votes as an Independent candidate for the position of a senator in the whole of Liberia," he said.