President George Manneh Weah recommends to the 54th Legislature to set July 31, 2018 for the conduct of the senatorial by-elections in Montserrado and Bong counties, respectively.
“Consistent with the powers conferred on the Legislature by article 34 (i) of the Liberian Constitution and the fact that you are the direct representatives of the people, I request that you pass a resolution, confirming the holding of the by- elections no later than July 31, 2018, in Bong and Montserrado Counties, so that this process be proceeded without undue delay”, reads a communication from the Executive Mansion dated May 16.
The presidential communication says despite the constraints, it is important the government does everything in its powers to strengthen the nation’s democracy and adhere as closely as possible to the timeframe provided in the Constitution.
“The National Elections Commission has already informed us that it is prepared to hold the by-elections no later than July 31, 2018,” the letter to plenary notes.
President Weah says the NEC has informed his office that the by-elections for the vacant seats have not been held within the constitutional required period of three months, as provided by Article 37 of the Liberian Constitution due to numerous reasons beyond the control of the Commission and the government, including financial constraints.
Article 37 of the Constituion of Liberia states; In the event of a vacancy in the Legislature caused by death, resignation, expulsion or otherwise, the presiding officer shall within 30 days notify the Elections Commission thereof. The Elections Commission shall not later than 90 days thereafter cause a by-election to be held; provided that where such vacancy occurs within 90 days prior to the holding of general elections, the filling of the vacancy shall await the holding of such general elections.
Following the Representatives and Presidential elections in 2017, two vacant seats were created in Montserrado and Bong Counties, as a consequence of the election of President George Weah and Vice President Jewel Howard Taylor.
Meanwhile, Speaker Bhofal Chambers without consultation from the floor forwarded the communication to the Chief Clark, Madam Mildred Sayon for appropriate action.
The action of Speaker Chambers was resisted by some members of the House who thought legislatively that the letter should have been discussed and final decision taken by plenary rather than an individual.
By E. J. Nathaniel Daygbor-Editing by Jonathan Browne