Liberia: Senate Set to Debate Pres. Weah's State of Emergency Plan

Traders in Monrovia's largest market district of Waterside on the morning the quarantine was lifted off West Point that's nearby.

Monrovia — President George Weah on Tuesday submitted his justifications and measures for a state of emergency to the Legislature for approval. The Senate is already looking into the matter and is expected to hold a debate on Wednesday, 10 AM on the issue.

The Legislature has no later than 72 hours to reach a decision in keeping with Article 88 of the Liberian Constitution, now that the President has formally communicated his intent and plan with them. A motion from Senator Gbleh-bo Browne of Maryland County pitched Wednesday, April 15, 2020 for Senators to meet and begin to debate the President's communication.

During opening ceremony of their return for the extraordinary session, Senate Pro-Tempore Albert Chie, announced the setup of a six-member committee that would work with the Committee from the House of Representatives in what is expected to be a joint committee to act on the President's measures as required by the Constitution.

The Committee are Senator Peter Coleman, Chairman (CDC-Grand Kru County), Senator Nyounblee Karnga Lawrence Secretary (LP-Grand Bassa County), Senator Saah Joseph Member (Montserrado County), Senator Gbleh-bo Browne, Member (IND-Maryland County), Senator Oscar Cooper member (IND-Margibi County), and Senator Steve Zargo member (LP-Lofa County).

The mandate of the committee is to gather and synchronize the views of all Senators on matters related to the issue of the COVID-19 pandemic control and management and its impact on the population. The Committee will also liaise with all stakeholders in the process, for the regular briefing of leadership, and by extension plenary.

"Distinguished colleagues, the COVID-19 pandemic is a serious matter and it is causing untold deaths all around the world, disrupting economies, adversely affecting the socio-economic fabrics of all societies and it is a real threat to the survival of mankind," Senator Chie noted.

In the Pro-Tempore's message, he also informed his colleagues that considering all of the ramifications and rapid rise in the number of coronavirus infections and deaths in Liberia, especially in Montserrado and Margibi Counties, the President of Liberia, in line with the Constitution, consulted him and the Speaker of the House of Representatives on the declaration of State of emergency (SOE).

The effectiveness of those measures proposed by the President, the impact on the population, national economic matters and key strategies to sustain the SOE, such as transparent management of donor assistance for COVID-19 response and active participation of the Legislature in controlling the pandemic and minimizing its impact on the citizens and residents are reasons why the legislature will remain in session.

"Colleagues, it is the view of the Senate leadership that we need tough measures and sacrifices at all levels of our population in order to effectively control the human-to-human transmission of the COVID-19 which has now permeated our various communities," he said.

The President's submission addresses most of Senator Dillon's concerns.

In his Facebook post, Senator Darius Dillon, a strong critic of the CDC government said; "to a large extent, and thankfully too, the President's submission addresses most of my (our) concerns already. We would be left to MODIFY the President's submission so as to address and possibly include other issues like advanced payment of civil servants' salaries and set in place specific security protocols to be applied during the period of the state of emergency.

"When these and others are finally concluded and endorsed by the Legislature, it would then be the DECISION of the Legislature for the President to carryout, not the decision of any one person; and the money that would be used to fulfil these decisions would be donors and taxpayers' money, not any one person's money. We look forward to these discussions in the Senate tomorrow, being cognizant of the fact that we are there for and because of you."

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