President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has sent a communication to the Liberian Senate, requesting that body to consider delay of its closure which was expected today, December 12, 2014. The Senate has been conducting extraordinary sittings for the last five days non-stop.
In her communication to the plenary, read by Secretary of the Senate J. Nanborlor F. Singbeh yesterday, President Sirleaf informed the lawmakers that “for the past two months, the National Oil Company (NOCAL) has been concluding negotiations with certain international oil companies for the exploration of the final oil blocks that were initiated under the 2002 Petroleum Law.”
The communication continued: “We are nearing completion of the process, but need more time in order to make full submission to you. I therefore request your consideration of a delay in the closure of your Honorable body…”
A motion for the communication to be accepted and opened for discussion was accepted by a majority vote, but Nimba County Senator Thomas Grupee argued that because the letter may have some sensitive issues to be deliberated, he suggested it be taken into executive session. That suggestion was unanimously accepted.
It may be recalled that the Senate recently extended its regular sittings for an extra ten days after the expiration of the 90-day state of emergency declared by President Sirleaf in the wake of the alarming spread of the Ebola virus.
During last Thursday’s plenary, that body agreed to continue regular sittings non-stop for the remaining five days, which would have expired today (December 12), with the beginning of the Legislature’s much-awaited constituency break.
It was not immediately clear what the Senators decided on during their closed door executive session, but authoritative sources believe the lawmakers will give the President at least a week’s delay.
In a related Senatorial development, readings of several committee reports on confirmation proceedings were called off following a motion by Montserrado County Senior Senator Joyce Musu Freeman-Sumo, who argued that it would be a violation of Article 48 of the Senate Rule, which she said stipulates that reports be circulated among Senators 24 hours before a sitting.
However, except for Sinoe County Superintendent-designate Thomas Romeo Quioh, who still needs to clear up issues with the General Auditing Commission, most if not all of those who went through confirmation proceedings are expected to get the green light.
Meanwhile, the Justice Minister-designate Cllr. Benedict Sannoh, will appear before the Senate Committee on Judiciary, chaired by Senator (Cllr.) Joseph Nagbe, for confirmation hearing this morning. President Sirleaf has already informed the Senate about the nomination of Cllr. Sannoh. He replaces Cllr. Christina Tah who resigned early August after serving as Justice Minister for close to six years.