Rejecting State-Funded Funeral for Husband – Sen. Lawrence, Widow of Fallen Lawmaker, Writes Colleagues
Elected officials are considered property of Government and their constituencies. Thus, by tradition, whenever they fall to the hands of death, the government takes responsibility to fund their funerals and give them memorable burials. It is not clear how much say family sources—specifically spouses of fallen officials—do have in critical decision-making regarding who takes larger possession and charge of fallen lawmakers’ funeral arrangements. The doubt might be decided in the burial of District #15 Representative Adolf Lawrence, an influential member of the National Legislature and whose widow, also a member of the National Legislature, is announcing in a communication her rejection of any funding from government towards the burial of the fallen lawmaker. As The Analyst reports, some pundits are finding correlation between the rejection of governmental funding in the Representative’s funeral and political tension in town.
It appears the country’s political tension between the opposition bloc and ruling administration is not showing much sign of receding soon. Even in cases of death of statespersons and despite overtures by President George Manneh Weah to share the grief of some by making regular visits, the situation is not abating.
This is manifesting its worst signs in the discourses that have occasioned the rather painful passing of a popular lawmaker, Montserrado Representative Adolf Lawrence, who was a leading critical voice against the George Weah administration.
Representative Lawrence, early this week, died in a tragic accident on the Roberts International Highway returning from Buchanan, Grand Bassa County, where he had celebrated his birthday adversary.
Since his passing, there have been observations in some quarters that pro-regime elements were celebrating in their corners and some posting provocative comments on the social media.
The late Lawrence won on the ticket of the Coalition for Democratic Change in the 2017 elections. It is not known to the public how he began to align with opposition elements.
Reportedly, the fallen lawmaker was at odd and in standoffs with the leadership of the Lower House, particularly Speaker Bhofol Chambers who some observers criticized for not greeting Lawrence’s passing with immediate expression of condolence to the family.
Now the wife of the deceased, Nyonblee Kangar Lawrence, who is currently a member of the Upper House of Senate, is tacitly keeping the funeral arrangements of her husband off the hands of the Chambers-headed House of Representatives.
But all the context doesn’t seem alluded to by Senator Lawrence in her communication addressed to Speaker Chambers as it is studded copiously in diplomatic language.
“In as much as every member of the National Legislature is entitled to Government-funded funeral, as a Senator, I am fully aware of the financial constraints with which the Government is currently confronted,” the Grand Bassa County Senator said, almost sounding more Catholic like the Pope.
Then she broke the news of family rejection of government funding to her husband’s burial: “We have therefore decided to forfeit such a privilege, as is due to my late husband. The requisite funding to underwrite the cost associated with the funeral rites of my late husband have already been raised from his Estate, our families, friends and supporters.”
The fallen lawmaker’s widow intimated in the letter to the House leadership that even in death her late husband is aware of the development needs of Liberia and constraints the Government faces in addressing those needs; as such, she would not acquiesce additional burden upon government to bury her husband.
She wrote: “Mr. Speaker, even in death, I am convinced that my late husband’s love for our country and care for the average Liberian has not ceased; hence, I would rather not impose any additional financial burden on the government.”
She however indicated her willingness to cooperate with Government in the execution of other official protocols necessary in the burial process of her husband.
Some observers think the Senator’s communication, however diplomatic its language, has much to do with the prevailing political tension in the country, particularly between the ruling CDC and its supporters on the one hand and the opposition bloc in which the Grand Bassa lawmaker and her fallen husband were leading voices on the other.
A number of Liberian statesmen have been alarming about the growing tension which has got its root in the 2017 elections and its outcome that showed the current president and his CDC party victorious.
The fracas got aggravated when the National Legislature seized on the impeachment of Associate Justice Kabina Jan’neh who some observers say is pro-opposition.
The late Montserrado County representative was opposed to the impeachment process and other government policies he considered abhorrent and unnecessary for national stability and development.
The widow of the deceased, a senator from Grand Bassa County, is a member of a leading opposition party, the Liberty Party of which she is also the Political leader.