The President of the Liberian Senate, Vice President Joseph N. Boakai, yesterday tabled a motion calling for a specific date for the holding of election for Pro Tempore.
The Senate President’s decision was prompted by an apparent deadlock following hours of debate on a communication from two Senators requesting their colleagues to allow election for Pro Tempore to take place on Thursday, four days ahead of President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf’s annual message next Monday.
According to Bong Senator Henry W. Yallah and Grand Kru County Senator Peter Sonpon Coleman, undue delay of the election which is in accordance with Rule 19, Section 3c & d, may cause a diversity of suspicion.
In their communication read yesterday in a crowded chamber, and without an intercom, Senators Yallah and Coleman reminded the lawmakers that Rule 19, Section 3, empowers them to elect a successor of the President Pro Tempore of the Senate in the case of a removal.
“The situation we now have does not represent a removal, but a vacancy based on election; such situation puts the Senate into a state of embarrassment considering that our rules are ambiguous on a vacancy of the seat of the President Pro Tempore resulting from election as was the case with the unexpired tenure of former Pro Tempore Gbehzohngar Findley,” the statement said.
The Senators who belong to the group calling themselves ‘Majority Bloc’, further argued that since the framing of the 1986 Constitution, there is no record to show that the Liberian Senate has received the President of Liberia for the state-of-the nation address without a duly elected President Pro Tempore, and other corps of officers of the Senate.
Although the proponents of the document calling for a fast track of the election were in greater number, those calling for the full implementation of Rule 19, among them Senators Jewel Howard-Taylor, J. Milton Teahjay and Oscar Cooper, among others, remained steadfast in their defense of adhering to the Rules.
Senator Cooper, who is one of three candidates vying for the Pro Tempore post, cautioned his colleagues that they have a dilemma and that it would be prudent for them to soberly try to find a way out of it that will not be just for this election for Pro Tempore, but for other such situations; and urged them to respect the rules of the Senate.
Outspoken ranking female Senators Geraldine Doe-Sherif and Nyonblee Kangar-Lawrence in their debate, challenged opponents to allow a test of the motion to fast track the election.
Further arguing that only the Supreme Court has the legal qualification and authority to appropriately interpret the Senate Rules and the national Constitution, Senator Doe-Sherif cautioned her colleagues to look at expediency for the sake of sanity of the Senate, and leave the legal battle alone.
Following the battle of those for and those against election being held on Thursday, Presiding Officer Vice President Boakai hit the gavel signaling an end to deliberations of the 3rd day sitting of the 4th Session, defering further debate on the matter to Thursday.