Members of the 54th Liberian Legislature from both the House of Representatives and the Liberian Senate convene today, April 13 at the Capitol to debate the State of Emergency recently declared by President George Manneh Weah to fight the Corona Virus.
On 8 April, President George Weah declared the SOE and a simultaneous lock-down, which took effect at 11:59PM on Friday, April 10 for 21 and 14 days respectively.
Legislators were expected to convene last Thursday to sign a joint resolution I support of the State of Emergency, but they failed to show up, as constitutionally required.
On Sunday, the directors for press and public affairs of both the House of Representatives and the Liberian Senate announced the full membership of the Legislature will resume today, Monday, April 13 in accordance with the 1986 Constitution of Liberia.
Article 86 (a) of the Liberian constitution states: The President may, in consultation with the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the President Pro Tempore of the Senate, proclaim and declare the existence of a state of emergency in the Republic or any part thereof. Acting pursuant thereto, the President may suspend or affect certain rights, freedoms and guarantees contained in this Constitution and exercise such other emergency powers as may be necessary and appropriate to take care of the emergency, subject, however, to the limitations contained in this Chapter.
Article 86 (b) notes that, A state of emergency may be declared only where there is a threat or outbreak of war or where there is civil unrest affecting the existence, security or well-being of the Republic, amounting to a clear and present danger.”
However, Article 87 (a) clarifies, “Emergency powers do not include the power to suspend or abrogate the Constitution, dissolve the Legislature, or suspend or dismiss the Judiciary; and no constitutional amendment shall be promulgated during a state of emergency. Where the Legislature is not in session, it must be convened immediately in special session and remain in session during the entire period of the state of emergency.”
A press statement from the Liberian Senate states that accordingly, the President Pro Tempore of the Liberian Senate, Albert T. Chie, has requested his colleagues to shorten their Easter Break and return to the Capital today, Monday, April 13, 2020.
The statement says the leadership of the Senate will first meet at 11:00AM in the conference room of the President Pro Tempore to set the stage for the resumption of legislative activities. Thereafter, the Senate will be informed of the date plenary sittings will resume.
By E. J. Nathaniel Daygbor-Editing by Jonathan Browne