The Senate is raising concerns over a reported decision by the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA) to retire close to 532 chiefs who have served their terms.
According to sources at the MIA, most of those to be retired have been serving as chiefs for over 25 years, due to the inability of successive governments to conduct elections for local government officials in accordance with the Constitution.
Few months ago, several Senators wrote the Senate plenary requesting the appearance of Internal Affairs Minister Morris Dukuly to give reason why his Ministry was contemplating retiring the chiefs.
The Senators informed their colleagues that the Ministry had justified its decision, citing that most of the chiefs were too old to serve effectively, while others had long passed retirement age.
But during confirmation hearings for three Assistant Internal Affairs Ministers and Commissioners yesterday, Rivercess County Senator Dallas A.V. Gueh told the nominees that the Senate is not going to take kindly to the Ministry of Internal Affairs’ intention of carrying out such a mass retirement of local and traditional leaders.
In an interview with this newspaper yesterday, Senator Gueh said the Senate had written the Ministry several letters concerning this issue, but the Minister continues to ignore them.
Senator Gueh argued that constitutionally, chiefs cannot be retired, because they occupy elective positions; “and they are not responsible if they have overstayed in their respective posts. The government can only terminate their services if elections are conducted and they fail to be re-elected. Any action outside election will be considered by the Legislature as unilateral and unconstitutional,” Senator Gueh explained.
He cautioned the Ministry to put a hold on its decision and find an amicable way out, preferably by holding elections.
Meanwhile, the Extraordinary Session of the Senate failed to convene yesterday on its third day sitting as the doors to the Chambers of the Senate remained closed.
Our reporter said some nominees who days ago went through confirmation proceedings were yesterday seen knocking on the doors of Senators in apparent attempts to put finishing touches or make further clarifications with Senate Committees before a final report to plenary.
Among those seen at the Capitol Building yesterday was Sinoe County Superintendent-designate Thomas Romeo Quioh, whose confirmation hearing has been put on hold due to the General Auditing Commission (GAC) audit report indicting him and the outgoing Superintendent for failing to account for more than US$727,000.00.
Also seen was Gbarpolu County Superintendent-designate and former member of the House of Representatives during the 52nd Legislature, Armah Sarnor, whose confirmation seems to be countered by Gbarpolu Senior Senator J.S.B. Theodore Momo. His argument is that most of President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf’s local government appointees are from Bopolu.