-Senate to decide election date
Election for the position of President Pro-Tempore of the Liberian Senate could not be held Tuesday, as reported last week due to procedural factor.
Instead, members of that august body are set to decide the date for the conduct of the in-house political exercise on Thursday of this week.
On Tuesday, Senators bitterly argued in plenary about whether or not the election should be held on tomorrow, Thursday. The rules of the Senate provide that election for the President Pro Tempore shall be conducted within 20 days, while statutory committee elections shall be held within 30 days. The Senators returned from their annual break, occasioned by the induction of 13 new senators, with two senators retaining their respective seats.
The Senate is expected to fill the vacancy announced by the Secretary of the Senate last Tuesday, following the defeat of former President Pro Tempore, Milton G. Findley of Grand Bassa County. The President Pro Tempore is the administrative head of the Senate, while Vice President Joseph Boakai is the President of the Liberian Senate.
The argument about the election on Tuesday began when Senators Peter Coleman of Grand Kru County and Henry Yallah of Bong County wrote that the plenary sets a date for election because the Senate could not continue to operate in the absence of a President Pro Tempore.
“We present our compliments and draw your urgent attention to a situation that, if condoned, will be unprecedented in the history of the Liberian Senate. This situation borders on the election of the President Pro Tempore of the Senate consistent with Rule 14, Section 1 and Rule 19 Section 3 of the Senate, which has the proclivity to lead the Senate to public dispute. We cannot be lawmakers and deliberately breach the rule of the Liberian Senate to satisfy personal interest. It must be maintained that Rule 14, Section 2 gives us the right to elect a President Pro Tempore, following a general and presidential elections to serve for six years,” the communication said.
The letter further noted that Rule 19, section 3 empowers the Senate to elect a successor of the President Pro Tempore in the case of removal. The letter, dated January 19, 2015 and
read in plenary Tuesday, indicated that the situation in the Senate at present now does not represent a removal, but a vacancy based on election, and as such, the situation puts the Senate into a state of embarrassment, considering that the rules are ambiguous on a vacancy of the seat of the President Pro Tempore resulting from election as was the case with the unexpired tenure of former Pro Tempore Milton G. Findley.
According to the communication, there is no record that the Liberian Senate has received the President’s annual message without a President Pro Tempore and other officers.
The vacancy was created as a result of the just-ended December 20, 2014 Special Senatorial Election. However, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf is expected to deliver her Annual Message Monday in fulfillment of the Liberian Constitution.
Meanwhile, Presiding Officer Joseph Boakai of the Liberian Senate held a motion to set a date for the conduct of the election until tomorrow, Thursday, January 22, 2015.