Members of the 53rd Legislature, in compliance with their constitutional mandate, are due to return to Capitol Hill on Monday, January 12, 2015 officially to begin their 4th Session, featuring thirteen new faces in the Liberian Senate following the just ended Special Senatorial Elections.
The mandate, as provided for in Article 32 (a) of the 1986 Constitution, states that the Legislature shall assemble in regular session once a year on the second working Monday in January.
Monday’s ceremony is expected to be graced by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the Chief Justice and Associate Justices of the Supreme Court of Liberia, members of the Cabinet and Foreign Missions accredited near Monrovia.
Others expected to be in attendance include heads of political parties, the Clergy, heads of Civil Society groups, local and international NGOs and eminent citizens.
According to the Office of the Chief Clerk, Madam Mildred Sayon, Members of the Legislature will host their counties’ flags and there from gather at the main entrance of the Capitol Building with the Vice President and Speaker leading the procession to the respective Chambers for the formal opening of the 4th Session.
A Joint Opening Program will be held in the rotunda of the Capitol Building.
At the Capitol Building, all attention will be drawn to the Liberian Senate as thirteen new Lawmakers take up their various seats since their election on Dec. 20, 2014 and subsequent certification by the National Elections Commission on the 3rd of January 2015.
The Election statistics disclosed that out of the twelve incumbent Senators in the Special Elections, only two, in persons of Senators Prince Y. Johnson and Jewel Howard-Taylor of Nimba and Bong Counties respectively were overwhelmingly reelected; leaving ten of their former colleagues failing to maintain their seats.
Senators Fredrick Cherue of River Gee, Cletus Wotorson of Grand Kru and Isaac Nyenabo of Grand Gedeh Counties were the only three who did not seek reelection in the just ended electoral process.
Fifteen out of the 30 Senatorial seats were up for grabs, their occupants having completed their nine-year tenure.
A noticeable absence in the House of Representatives is Francis Paye who was elected Senator of Rivercess County while serving as Representative of District 2 in that county.
A By-Election is expected to take place within three months following a notification from Speaker Alex Tyler informing the National Elections Commission about the vacancy in the House of Representatives as stipulated in Article 37 of the 1986 Constitution.
“In the event of a vacancy in the Legislature caused by death, resignation, expulsion or otherwise, the presiding officer shall within 30 days notify the Elections Commission thereof. The Elections Commission shall not later than 90 days thereafter cause a by-election to be held; provided that where such vacancy occurs within 90 days prior to the holding of general elections, the filling of the vacancy shall await the holding of such general elections.”
The following Representatives are among those who failed to win their constituents’ approval for Senate office in the December 20 poll: Grand Gedeh District # 1 Representative Zoe E. Pennoh; Maryland County District # 3 Representative Isaac Roland; Grand Bassa County District # 1 Representative Gabriel B. Smith; and Gbarpolu County District # 2 Representative Gertrude Lamin.
Dr. Bhofal Chambers of Maryland County District # 2 has filed a protest against the result and the Supreme Court placed an injunction on said result pending its opinion on the subject.
During the 3rd sitting of the House of Representatives, a total number of 50 Bills were enacted into law out of 108 that were introduced at that August Body.
Some of those laws passed include an Act of the Legislature prescribing the National Code of Conduct for all public Officials and Employees of the Republic of Liberia; an Act to Amend and Restate the Pension Bill of 2014 for Government Officials to include the President, Vice President, Speaker, President Pro-Tempore of the Senate, Deputy Speaker and Members of the Legislature, Elected Chamber staff of Legislature, Chief Justice and Associate Justices of the Supreme Court and Members of the Judiciary; an Act Adopting the Nation-wide Life Conservation and Protected Area Management Law of Liberia; and an Act to Amend the New Executive Law of 1972 to establish the Ministry of Gender and Children and Social Protection.