The House of Representatives has endorsed the establishment of seven Special Legislative Constituencies for which an additional seven members would be elected, in addition to the already 73, totaling 81members in the House.
The motion indicated that there would be five seats for women to be divided among five regions; while the youth and persons living with disabilities will have their respective seats.
Deputy Speaker Hans M. Barchue broke the tie to concur with the Senate on the Affirmative Action for Equal Participation and Representation Act after a vote of 18-18, for which some of the lawmakers accused Senior Stenographer Conmicks Chea of inflating the votes in favor of the pro-Tyler lawmakers to compel a draw.
The Senate’s version of the Affirmative Action for Equal Participation and Representation provides the establishment of 21 Special Legislative Constituencies for which an additional 21 members of the House of Representatives shall be elected – with 15 seats for women, 3 seats each for the youth and persons living with disabilities.
The House’s concurrence, which has altered the Senate’s account, would compel a Conference Committee comprised of both Houses to reconcile the Affirmative Action for Equal Participation and Representation Act.
However, Maryland County Representative Dr. Bhofal Chambers has filed a motion of reconsideration for the vote on the passage of the Affirmative Action for Equal Participation and Representation Act, which would be considered today, Friday, September 30, in a Special Session.
It may be recalled that on August 25, it was reported that the Senate unanimously passed the “Affirmative Action for Equal Participation and Representation Act of 2016,” which was forwarded to the House of Representative for concurrence.
At Wednesday’s public hearing, Gender Minister Julia Duncan Cassell told the 28-member House’s Joint Committee that the Affirmative Action Bill aims to elevate the level of equitable representation and participation in the governance process. The Joint Committee comprised
Gender, Judiciary, Good Governance and Election & Inauguration.
The Gender Minister reminded the Legislature that Article 5 (a) of the Constitution empowers the Legislature to enact laws that promote the realization of social justice and increase citizens’ access for political and economic participation.
“There are international instruments to which Liberia is a signatory and acceded to, which call for the enactment of affirmative action legislation for the empowerment of women, youth and persons living with disabilities,” she said.
“ECOWAS and AU Protocols, CEDAW, CRPD, the Beijing Declaration, and the African Youth Charter are some of the international instruments supportive of affirmative action to accelerate their participation in politics for adequate representation.”
The National Chairperson of the National Civil Society Council, Madam Frances R. Deigh Greaves; the Vice President for Association of Female Lawyers in Liberia (AFELL), Atty. Nadia S. Kamara; Mrs. Daintowon Domah Payebaye, representing the disabled community; and Mr.
Amos Williams, Deputy Secretary General for Programs of the Federation of Liberian Youths (FLY) are among Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) that also urged the Legislature to enact the Affirmative Action Bill.