23 February 2018

Liberia: Lawmakers Suspend Sessions for Orientation Training

Photo: Liberian Legislature
Members of the Liberian legislature.

Thursday, February 22, should have been the 13th day sitting of the House of Representatives, where Acting Speaker, Prince K. Moye was expected to preside, but the session has been suspended to compel members of that august body to form part of an ongoing three-day Orientation Training for the lawmakers.

Attendance is mandatory, and at least 64 lawmakers have signed the "Attendance Log" and given a tag each.

Six lawmakers, including Speaker Bhofal Chambers, and Representative Munah Pelham-Youngblood, chairperson on Executive were formally excused to travel with President George Weah.

Also excused were Representative Edwin M. Snowe, Haja F. Siryon and Clarence Massaquoi, because they are attending the ECOWAS Parliamentarian Session in Abuja, Nigeria, while the chairman on Judiciary, J. Fonati Koffa was excused to visit the United States.

According to Rule 2 of the House's Regulations, daily sessions are held on Tuesdays and Thursdays of each week from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m., and from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m., at which time, roll call and votes are taken (by the Chief Clerk), while Mondays and Wednesdays are set aside for Committees meetings, and Fridays to be observed for constituency businesses.

Chief Clerk Mildred Sayon is serving as one of the facilitators at the orientation, while the Sergeant-at-arms Martin Johnson, is also in attendance to announce the commencement of the day's session, following which the chaplain shall offer prayer.

After the end of the training, daily sessions will resume on Tuesday, February 27, for the commencement of legislative business.

Wednesday, Feb. 21

On the first day, Rep. Moye reminded his colleagues about the electoral campaign promises, but challenged them to focus on the training to acquire the necessary knowledge on the power of lawmaking, oversight and representation.

The Embassy Charge d'Affaires at the US Embassy in Monrovia, Samuel Watson reaffirmed his government support to re-brand the Legislature.

Watson urged the lawmakers to build stronger party alliance through their various caucuses.

He added, "Transparency is the power of the legislative branch, therefore, the US Government recognizes the importance of the process and accountable governance."

In separate remarks, Artan Alijaj and Thomas Du, program director and manager at the National Democratic Institute, formally welcomed members of the lawmakers to the training session.

Partial view of lawmakers at the Orientation Training

There were presentations on the Liberian Legislative structure, Nigerian Assembly and the US Congress, including their roles and functions.

There was also presentations of the legislative process, including the steps involved before a bill becomes a law, and presentation regarding the debate in plenary session; role and functions of House Committees, including the legislative oversight functions and how it is organized; legislative budget process, and the role of the Liberia Budget Office at the House of Representatives, and the budget process in US House of Representatives.

Thursday, Feb 22

The House's Chairperson on Rules, Order and Administration, Representative Mariamu Fofana, presented papers on her role and function, followed by Representative Thomas P. Fallah who led discussions on best practices with respect to the relationship between the Executive and Legislative as well as constituency services and how to utilize them in the Liberian context. Rep. Fallah is chairing the House's Committee on Ways, Means and Finance.

Discussants at a panel discussion on media relationships with the lawmakers was attended by House Press Director Isaac Redd, Frontpage Africa Managing Editor Rodney Sieh, Ms. Eva Flomo of UNMIL Radio and the president of reporters assigned at the Legislature, Musa Kenneh.

Also, a civil society actor discussed their legislative monitoring program, and how they intend to distribute the information to voters during the 54th legislature, followed by the importance of parties were also considered.


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