Liberia: 27 CPP Lawmakers to Protest President's Extension of SOE

Over 27 members of the Coalition of Political Parties (CPP) of the 54th Legislature (from the House of Representatives and the Senate) are planning to protest in a show of support for the annulment (retraction) of the State of Emergency declared by President George Weah, which was not constitutionally approved within 72 hours (3 days) after submission to the Legislature.

The Daily Observer has gathered that the CPP lawmakers are concluding consultations on whether they should either launch a sit-in protest or Walk out of Session as well as set the duration of the protest.

The discussion also include whether the protest should be joint or done separately.

An executive of the CPP Legislative Caucus, who begged to remain anonymous, told the Daily Observer that "talks are in progress for a peaceful protest." But the lawmaker failed to state when it will commence.

The CPP Legislative Caucus argued that, legitimately, the 72 hours (3 days) have been expired for the ratification of the second State of Emergency that was declared by the President on June 22.

Article 88 of the Constitution gives the President seven (7) days to lay before the Legislature the facts and circumstances leading to the declaration of a state of emergency. After submission, the Legislature should (shall) in three days ratify the State of Emergency.

"The Legislature shall within seventy-two hours, by joint resolution voted by two-thirds of the membership of each house, decide whether the proclamation of a state of emergency is justified or whether the measures taken thereunder are appropriate. If the two-thirds vote is not obtained, the emergency automatically shall be revoked. Where the Legislature shall deem it necessary to revoked the state of emergency or to modify the measures taken thereunder, the President shall act accordingly and immediately carry out the decisions of the Legislature," Article 88 states.

Two-thirds of the House of Representatives equal 49 Representatives (signatories) and the Senate are 20 (signatories).

It may be recalled that a press statement read by its Chairman, Representative Joseph Papa Kolleh (Bong County District #7), says "the imposition of the State of Emergency is of no help to the fight against COVID-19 in Liberia."

He added: "We, as members of the CPP Legislative Caucus, wish to bring to the attention of the Liberian people that the State of Emergency, as announced by the President of the Republic of Liberia on June 22, 2020 for a 30-day extension, has not yet been passed by the National Legislature. As such, it has passed the maximum constitutional time frame to be enforced as provided for in Article 88.

"While we are concerned about the alarming impact of the COVID-19's spread, we give notices to the Executive, the Legislative and the Judicial branches of Government that, as of tomorrow, July 3, 2020, the extension of the SOE shall not apply," the CPP lawmakers announced.

"We hereby advise and encourage the President to revert to the Public Health laws in ensuring the safety of the state."

Amid the cautionary position of the CPP lawmakers, the SoE is nevertheless in effect since the President on June 22, 2020 announced its extension by 30 days. In a presidential proclamation, the President declared that he took the decision in consultation with the Legislature to afford the government the opportunity to re-examine its COVID-19 response.

In line with the Constitution, President Weah wrote the Legislature stating the facts and circumstances behind his decision to extend the State of Emergency.

In the communication, read in session by Chief Clerk of the House of Representatives, Mildred Sayon, on Tuesday, June 30, 2020, the President told members of the 54th Legislature that the coronavirus was spreading beyond the Government's control and there was a need for swift action to contain the mode of transmission.

There are reports, that if the Legislature failed to approve the SoE or advance a bill that would not extend the SoE, the President may extend the SoE declaration by executive order.

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