Liberia Chooses New 3rd Deputy Speaker, Head of Delegation to ECOWAS Parliament

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Sen. Prince Yormie Johnson

The House of the Representative and the Liberian Senate have selected Nimba County Senator Prince Y. Johnson to complete the term of office of the 3rd Deputy Speaker in the 4th Legislature at the ECOWAS parliament, which runs from February 2016 – February 2020.

Liberia is allowed to send five members, three Representatives and two Senators, to the ECOWAS parliament.

Sen. Johnson replaced Representative Jefferson Kanmoh of Sinoe County District #1, who was defeated in the October 10, 2017 presidential and representatives elections.

Kanmoh served as 3rd Deputy Speaker from February 2016 – February 2018 as a member of that august body since 2007.

The selection of  Sen. Johnson is the prerogative of the Liberian legislature to continue occupying the office of the 3rd Deputy Speaker based on a rotational system in alphabetical order in accordance with the supplementary protocol that established the parliament, which in 2016, necessitated Liberia to get the 3rd Deputy Speaker position.

Reports said Bomi County District #3 Representative, Haja F. Siryon, who also became a member of the ECOWAS parliament in 2007, was tipped to emerge as the 3rd Deputy Speaker, but was “convinced to decline” because of the intervention of House Speaker  Bhofal Chambers and Senate Pro Tempore Albert Chie.

In separate resolutions, the House of Representatives and the Senate have chosen Representative Clarence Massaquoi of Lofa County District #3 to join Edwin M. Snowe, Representative, Bomi County District #1, and Rep. Siryon as well as Senator Steve Zargo of Lofa County to join Sen. Johnson to represent the country at that parliament.

Sen. Zargo replaces  Senator George M. Weah and Rep. Massaquoi also replaces Rep. Kanmoh.

Rep. Snowe,  co-chair on Administration, Finance, Budget Control and Audits, has also been appointed the head of Liberian delegation to the ECOWAS parliament. He replaces Sen. George M. Weah, now President of Liberia.

According to reports, the ECOWAS parliament has formally admitted Sen. Johnson and Rep. Snowe to their respective new positions, and Rep. Massaquoi as member for that body for the first time.

The new members are attending the first extraordinary session of the second ordinary session, which is currently taking place in Dakar, Senegal.

The ECOWAS parliament is responsible to deliberate, consider and adopt work programs, reports as well as sit over conferences jointly organized with partners. It also receives country reports and meets with local authorities.

Meanwhile the parliament is composed of 115 seats. Each of the 15 member states has a guaranteed minimum of five seats. The remaining seats are shared on the basis of population.

Consequently, Nigeria has 35 seats, Ghana 8 seats, Cote d’Ivoire 7, while Burkina Faso, Guinea, Mali, Niger and Senegal have six each. The others – Benin, Cape Verde, The Gambia, Guinea Bissau, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Togo have five seats each.

Members of ECOWAS parliament enjoy parliamentary immunity in all member states. They may not be prosecuted, summoned, arrested, detained or sentenced, except in case of flagrante delicto, whether parliament is in session or on recess.

Before any Member of Parliament (MP) is apprehended in a case of flagrante delicto, duly established, suits or confirmed sentence, clearance must be sought from the bureau of the parliament.

The parliament can, through a two-thirds majority, request from the competent authority the suspension of a detention order on or a suit against an MP.


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