Ongoing political campaigns here appear to be having serious impact on the effective functions of lawmakers on Capitol Hill, as members of both the House of Representatives and the Liberian Senate are unable to have quorum to conduct regular sessions, barely 32 days to the October 10th presidential and representative elections.
Both chambers of the Liberian Legislature were virtually empty on Thursday, 7 September except for few members of that august body, who appeared but could not conduct normal business due to lack of quorum.
Key leaders of the First Branch of Government, including Speaker Emmanuel James Nuquay, Senate Pro-Tempore Armah Jallah and the President of the Liberia Senate, Vice President Joseph Nyumah Boakai, among others were conspicuously absent from the Capitol, as all have taken leave to attend political campaign rallies.
Vice President Boakai, who is vying for the Presidency and over 19 senators are currently in southeast Liberia, campaigning, while Senators George Manneh Weah and Jewel Howard Taylor, standard bearer and running mate respectively of the Coalition for Democratic Change had just returned from Central Liberia on campaign trail.
Lawmakers here have extended their stay at the Capitol Building by additional four months that would enable them to pass several legislative instruments submitted by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.
The Liberian Legislature should have closed since August 31, this year, but the President requested that the lawmakers hold on for additional four months.
With the extension, it is statutorily mandatory that the Government pay them for the additional stay, but given the current absences, particularly involving the leadership at the highest level, allowances and salaries for the period will be paid for services that may not be provided.
Majority members of the House of Representatives are seeking reelection while, Speaker Nuquay is running mate of Vice President Joseph Boakai, vying on the ticket of the governing Unity Party.
The Senate President Boakai, Montserrado County Senator George Manneh Weah, Nimba County Senator Prince Yormie Johnson and Margibi County Senator Oscar Cooper are all seeking the Liberian presidency.
The National Elections Commission has since declared official campaign activities opened on July 31, and with less than 32 days left before closure of the exercise, contestants are leaving no stone unturned, as they actively engage every loop and corner of the country, seeking votes from electorate that ensure victory at the poll, even if it meant abandoning the crucial issue of state leadership for now.
By E. J. Nathaniel Daygbor-Editing by Jonathan Browne