14 September 2017

Liberia: Senate Excepts to Media Reports

The Liberian Senate excepts to media reports that senators are not attending session despite extension of regular sitting beyond statutory period.The Senate prior to its closure on August 31, 2017 announced that session would be held based on notification from the Leadership provided, when there is an issue of national concern.

There have been reports by various local media institutions that the ongoing political campaigns across the country appears to be having serious impact on the effective functions of lawmakers on Capitol Hill, as members of both the House of Representatives and the Liberian Senate are unable to have quorum to conduct regular sessions, less than a month to the October 10th presidential and representative elections.

Both chambers of the Liberian Legislature over the past session days have been virtually empty except for few members of that august body, who appeared, but could not conduct normal business due to lack of quorum. Key leaders of the First Branch of Government, including Speaker Emmanuel James Nuquay, Senate Pro-Tempore Armah Jallah and the President of the Liberia Senate, Vice President Joseph Nyumah Boakai, among others have been conspicuously absent from the Capitol, attending political campaign rallies.

Vice President Boakai has been to southeast Liberia on campaign trail, while his running mate Speaker Nuquay was in Grand Bassa County. Both officials like three other members of the senate, specifically, Senators Weah and Taylor, and Prince Johnson, are vying for the presidency. VP Boakai and Speaker Nuquay, current flag-bearers of the governing Unity Party are gearing up for official launch of campaign on Saturday, 16 September here in Montserrado County.

The Director of Press and Public Affairs of the Liberian Senate, Jarlawah A. Tonpo, says the decision was reached by plenary of the Senate as a method to be used for the special sitting 2017. He says whenever the Senate is about to convene, it will be opened to the media and the public will be duly informed. Lawmakers here have extended their stay at the Capitol Building by additional four months that would enable them to pass several legislative instruments submitted by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. The Liberian Legislature should have closed since August 31, this year, but President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf requested that the lawmakers hold on for additional four months.

With the extension, it is statutorily mandatory that the Government pays them for the additional stay, but given the current absences, particularly involving the leadership at the highest level, allowances and salaries for the period will be paid for services that may not be provided.

By Bridgett Milton-Editing by Jonathan Browne


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