“Inherent Contradiction in Articles 54 and 56”

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Grand Cape Mount County Senator Varney Sherman

-Sen. Sherman, others support election of superintendents

The Senate chairman on Judiciary Senator Varney Sherman and others have welcomed an amendment of the Constitution that will allow election of superintendents of counties as is the case with paramount, clan and other local government officials.

Sen. Sherman was specific and emphatic during debate on the current draft to amend the Local Government Act of 2018 last Thursday, by describing Articles 54 and 56 as containing “inherent contradictions.”

“How can the Constitution under Article 54 (d) empowers the President to appoint ‘superintendents, other county officials and officials of other political sub-divisions; but Article 56 (b) stipulates that: There shall be elections of Paramount, Clan and Town Chiefs by the registered voters in their respective localities…”

Sen. Sherman and others argued that to have and effective decentralization of the government, superintendents, who act as heads of the counties must be elected as is the case with those who they have direct supervisory power over.

Other Senators however, who are skeptical over the election of superintendents, think such action would be giving the superintendents too much power and would render Representatives and Senators limited authority over the electorates.

But the chairman of the Senate Committee on Internal Affairs, Senator Gbleh-bo Brown, himself a former Superintendent of Maryland County, tried to allay fears of his colleagues, saying the lawmakers will still maintain their constitutional authority and will in no way diminish it, such as lawmaking and oversight responsibility over institutions under the Executive Branch of Government.

Asked whether he, as co-drafter of the Act along with the Judiciary committee, was disappointed over the suspension of debates, Senator Brown said the decision was part of their legislative functions; “but while we await the involvement of the Law Review Commission, my committee will continue its work unabated.”

“We believe in decentralization and central government sharing power with the local people because that is the way forward for this country to develop; so whatever it takes, this committee is going to do whatever within its power to ensure that eventually this law passed,” Brown told the press.

Gbarpolu County Senator Daniel Naatehn, expressed serious reservation on some of the proposed drafts which he said, “were borrowed from other countries and want to be used in Liberia, [though] our system is completely different from the other system. We think that we need to go back to the committee room, to the drawing board, get the technicians to re-look at this law and Liberia with its governance structure and suggest something that will be easier to administer.”

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