13 June 2017

Liberia: No Quorum

The senate's 40th day sitting yesterday came to an unceremonious adjournment when presiding officer, and Montserrado County Senator, Geraldine Doe-Sheriff made the call because there were only seven of them present.

Senator Doe-Sheriff, who chairs the Senate Committee on the Executive, had earlier authorized the sergeant-at-arms to announce the traditional commencement of the sitting with only four senators present; two more arrived following devotion.

Without a roll call, which would have been the case in such a situation, the Secretary of the Senate, J. Nanborlor F. Sengbeh, then read the first communication under the item

'Business on President's Desk,' announcing new nominations in government.

However, the reading of a second communication, a report from the Senate Committees on Labor, Concessions & Investment; Agriculture & Fisheries; and Judiciary, Claims, Petitions & Human Rights on the labor abuse case at the Maryland Oil Palm Plantation (MOPP), was called to order by one of the seven senators present, Margibi County Senator Oscar Cooper.

Senator Cooper observed that the report had not been distributed among the senators 24 hours prior to its reading and that none of the heads of the committees was present. "I, therefore, request that reading of the report must be deferred," he appealed. With no other agenda item, the sitting was adjourned, and senators present then trooped to the Joint Chambers, where the expenditure component of the Fiscal 2017/2018 National Budget Hearing was being held.

A good number of senators are on committees that are conducting the budget hearing, including the Committees on Ways, Means, Budget & Finance.

Senators present at the failed sitting included Geraldine Doe-Sherif (presiding), Albert Chie, J. Milton Teahjay, H. Dan Morais, Jewel Howard-Taylor, Oscar Cooper and Conmany B. Wesseh. Sen. Thomas Grupee arrived just after the adjournment, en route to the Joint Chamber to attend the budget hearing,.

Meanwhile, it is commonplace for some senators to stay away from session. Conspicuously absent yesterday were Senators George Manneh Weah (who has been absent for over a month), George Tengbeh, Stephen Zargo, Sando Johnson and Dallas A. V. Gueh, among others.


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