23 January 2018

Liberia: Legislature to Review Inaugural Swearing-in Protocol

Members of the 54th Legislature on Monday, January 22, held its first Joint Session for the administration of Oaths for President George Weah and Vice President Jewel Howard-Taylor.

The Daily Observer has reliably gathered that members of the House of Representatives and the Senate are considering reviewing the "Inaugural Proceedings" especially the protocol or precedence of the President to be inaugurated before the Vice President.

Monday's inauguration was in consonance with Article 50 of the Constitution: "... the president shall be elected by universal adult suffrage of registered voters in the Republic and shall hold office for a term of six years commencing at noon on the third working Monday in January of the year immediately following the elections... ."

This newspaper also gathered that the legislature is poised to make a change to the "Protocol and Precedence" for the President to be sworn-in before the Vice President, which they say is obsolete and out-of-order.

Before the luncheon hosted by the Joint Legislative Committee on Election and Inauguration after the adjournment of the Special Joint Session at the Samuel K. Doe Sports Complex, scores of Representatives and Senators said the country's Constitution is closely modeled after the United States of America, "but there is dissimilarity in the inaugural protocol, which should be corrected through appropriate legislation."

The spokesperson of the "Change in Protocol or Precedence," Grand Bassa County Senator Jonathan Karpaiye, Chairman on the Senate's Election and Commission, said the protocol is outdated and needs reform, and he hopes the 54th Legislature would "act" going forward to have the Vice President sworn-in before the President.

The outgoing House Election and Inauguration chairman, Representative Gabriel Smith, said: "We made the recommendation, but for the sake of protocol and precedence and the time frame, it was not allowed. But I hope as l gathered, the 54th Legislature will correct it."

It is yet to be known whether the "discussion for the change or protocol" would be placed on the floor during the 1st session of the 54th Legislature.

The legislature is expected to hold its 2nd Special Joint Session on Monday, January 29, at which time the President, George Weah, will present his "administration's legislative agenda" for 2018, in accordance to Article 58 of the Liberian Constitution.

Authors

Leroy M. Sonpon, III

Liberia

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