President Weah and Other Officials Fail to Attend Rep. Lawrence’s Friday Funeral

MONROVIA, Montserrado – The speaker of the 54th National Legislature, Bhofal Chambers, and members of the Coalition for Democratic Change serving in the Legislature failed to attend the funeral of the fallen representative from Montserrado’s fifteenth district.

The failure of the officials to attend came after the official state funeral for Adolph Lawrence was disrupted on Thursday.

Lawrence, a member of the CDC who was married to Liberty Party standard bearer Sen. Nyonblee Karnga-Lawrence, died in March from a tragic motor accident while returning home from his 52nd birthday celebration in Buchanan, Grand Bassa.

The official ceremony organized by the government to honor the fallen statesman failed to take place at the Capitol Building on Thursday, after family members allegedly ordered the forced removal of his remains from the Capitol following an uproar between supporters of CDC and the opposition Liberty Party.

The upheaval began when supporters of CDC allegedly prevented Liberty Party Chairman, Sen. Steve Zargo from entering the rotunda of the Capitol Building, where the states funeral was supposed to take place.

Meanwhile, neither President George Weah nor the speaker, as well as any CDC lawmaker, participated in the removal of Lawrence’s corpse and a funeral service held at the Sacred Heart Cathedral Catholic Church in Central Monrovia on Friday.

Deputy Speaker Prince Moye, along with other members of the Legislature, participated in the activities to give their colleague his last respect. Moye delivered an impromptu tribute on behalf of the House of Representatives.

Montserrado’s eighth district representative, Acarous Gray, who is also an executive member of CDC, wrote on social media that the party had announced a disengagement over the lawmaker’s funeral.

“Peace and stability matters. Rest on partisan Lawrence. Our last respect,” Gray wrote.

But Sinoe’s second district representative, Jay Nagbe Sloh, said the speaker had engineered the disruption of the state funeral and boycotted all the following activities.

“The weakest and wicked speaker in the history of the legislature, Jallah Laheny (Bhofal Chambers), has taken his hatred for our late colleague, Adolph Akwe Lawrence, to the highest level,” Sloh also wrote on Facebook.

River Gee’s third district representative, Francis Dopoh, said Thursday’s incident was a disgrace to the legislature and the government and people of Liberia. Dopoh blamed the CDC for initiating the provocation.

“The incident, with no if and about it, was provoked by the Congress for Democratic Change. Their slogans were provocative,” he said.

“Slogans such like [sic] in the songs they were singing, ‘what violence we have not seen,’ ‘what protest we have not seen.’ Gbekugbeh this, Gbekugbeh that. You didn’t come to celebrate Gbekugbeh.”

He called on the president to let his partisans know that he is running a government and not a party, and that the president should provide leadership for the country and all its citizens, including non-CDCians.

According to the lawmaker, the chairman of CDC, Mulbah Morlu, had also entered the hall with battle cries, when the corpse of the late representative was not yet in the building. He said the situation led to arguments in the hall, and among lawmakers.

Morlu had posted on Facebook blaming members of the collaborating opposition political parties for causing the disruption, noting that members of the CDC’s executive committee were seated and calm when the argument ensued in the hall. But Dopoh denied that the claim was true.

“While he posted on the Facebook that he was calm and seated, that was after we intervened to ensure that they get outside. That’s the going outside issue that caused what occurred. It was wrong,” the lawmaker noted.

The River Gee lawmaker also said the action by the bereaved family to take away the corpse of the late representative was to protect the family and the remains of the fallen representative.

He, however, blamed Thursday’s incident and previous misunderstanding among members of the 54th Legislature on the failure of the speaker to provide effective leadership.

“The honorable speaker of the 54th Legislature in [the] House of Representatives is a weakling. He’s very weak. In my mind, he does not fit to be called a man from the southeast, because he’s not demonstrating leadership. He’s not demonstrating independence. He’s controlled by some colleagues in the house who are little known when it comes to the governing politics of this country – when it comes to keeping the peace, who have little or no leadership skills,” he explained.

“Even as people are saying, even if he doesn’t merit his doctorate degree, I think he should just learn by this time that he is not leading well.”

The lawmaker believes that the action of the speaker to boycott the funeral activities of the late representative was unjustifiable.

Before his demise, Lawrence took strong stances on issues and fiercely criticized the president and the speaker for the ways they proceeded with the leadership of the country.

While Weah extended sympathy to the Lawrence family and that of his wife, Grand Bassa’s Sen. Nyonblee Karnga-Lawrence, the National Legislature, and Montserrado’s 15th district, some comments made on social media by claimed supporters of the ruling party appeared to rejoice in the lawmaker’s death.

Featured photo by Zeze Ballah

Gbatemah Senah

Gbatemah is a graduate of the University of Liberia and a recipient of the Jonathan P. Hicks Scholarship for Mass Communications. In 2017, Senah won three Press Union of Liberia awards: Women's Rights Reporter of the Year, Legislative Reporter of the Year, and Land Rights Reporter of the Year. In 2018, he was also recognized as the Land Rights Reporter of the Year.

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