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Lawsuit hangs over LISCR bill

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LISCR building NDMargibi County Senator Oscar Cooper, has threatened to sue the Liberia Maritime Authority and the Government for the manner in which the Liberian Legislature passed the bill seeking the extension of the agreement between LISCR and the LMA.

Senator Cooper told reporters Thursday at the Capitol Building in Monrovia following defeat of his motion for reconsideration on the floor that the last option available to him to stop the bill from going further is the legal process.

Reports from the Capitol revealed that sitting senators violated rule 35 (section 6) of the Liberian Senate in concurring with the House of Representatives to extend the Liberian Shipping and Corporate Registry (LISCR) agreement to 2029.

Rule 35, section 6 requires that two-thirds of the senate must vote in favor of an agreement before concurrence. But according to confirmed report, only 17 out of 29 voted for the extension instead of 19 out of 29.

The LISCR deal is the first major agreement extended under the leadership of Senate President Pro-Temp, Armah Z. Jallah.

Sen. Cooper has described the Pro-Tempore’s action as “Jallahism theory”. The aggrieved Margibi County Senator minced no words in expressing his reservation over the concurrence of the LISCR agreement by his colleagues.

Senator Cooper said he was disappointed that his colleagues concurred with the agreement without rectification.

“I filed a privileged motion of reconsideration against the extension of the LISCR agreement because it was done without rectification; the rule is that extended agreements should be rectified by Senators to ensure improvement”.

Senator Cooper, who was defeated by Senator Armah Jallah in the Pro-Tempore Senatorial race, conceded that his motion was indeed “deliberately ignored” by the presiding during discussion on the LISCR agreement extension.

“It should have been democratically prudent for the Pro-Tempore to acknowledge my motion and test its substance through votes; if majority voted against it, then no problem, but to ignore the motion is troubling,” he lamented.

Despite the concurrence, he wrote a communication to Pro-Tempore Jallah, stating his displeasure over the manner in which his view was not respected during the process.

Liberians at home and abroad have commented on the merits and demerits of the viability and urgency of the hasty extension of the deal, which was expected to expire in 2019.

“We don’t know why the Senate rushed to concur with the lower House to extend the Liberian Shipping and Corporate Registry (LISCR) agreement to 2029; the deal still has some time before its expiration; we need time to scrutinize it in order to receive maximum yield for Liberians,” said Rep. Bhofal Chambers and other concerned Liberians.

LISCR, represented by Chairman Yoram Cohen, chairs a single source liability company organized under the laws of the State of Delaware, United States and serves as agent in certain maritime affairs in managing Liberia’s aquatic sector.

The extension when signed into law by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and subsequently printed into hand bill by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, automatically empowers LISCR to operate in Liberia until 2029, an additional 10 years.

Meantime, the Unity Party (UP) led government of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf ends its second term in 2017. By E. J. Nathaniel Daygbor – Editing by Jonathan Browne

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