A group of Senators calling themselves the ‘Majority Bloc’ members, are said to be contemplating a request to the Senate leadership to come out with an earlier timetable for the Pro Tempore election rather than the stipulated time frame in accordance with Rule 19 of the Senate. But there are signals that the ‘Majority Bloc’ will be blocked from overturning Rule 19 and the ruling will be followed to the letter.
In a phone conversation with this paper Monday, the Acting Pro Tempore and Chair of the Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs, H. Dan Morais, said Rule 19, which deals with election of Pro Tempore will be enforced to the letter, and that there is going to be no rush to fast track the process.
Sen. Morais, who said he was speaking from Maryland County, urged his colleagues to read the Senate’s Rules, which, according to him, are clear on when to hold election for the Senate Pro Tempore.
During the second day sitting of the 4th Session of the plenary last Thursday, the Secretary of the Senate, J. Nanborlor F. Singbeh, in accordance with Rule 19 which deals with suspension or removal of the Pro Tempore and other officers of the Senate, announced before the plenary the vacancies for the post of Pro Tempore and other Leadership Committees.
Section 3(c) of Rule 19 stipulates that upon the announcement of vacancy for the post of Pro Tempore, all interested Senators shall declare their intention in writing to the Plenary through the Secretary of the Senate not later than 20 calendar days from the date of the announcement of the vacancy and that, the Secretary shall circulate all declarations received to all members of the Senate not later than 20 calendar days prior to the date of the election.
Sections 3(e) & (f) further stipulate that on the day of the election, the President of the Senate shall preside, or in his stead the Secretary of the Senate; and that said election shall be conducted consistent with guidelines approved by the plenary prior to the date of said election.
There are indications that a group of senators, who have styled themselves as ‘Majority Bloc’ will request the Senate plenary to take into consideration expediency and act on a truncated (shortened) timetable for the Pro Tempore election.
According to a well-placed source within the ‘Majority Bloc’, the election of a Pro Tempore of the Senate is one of the most important tasks before that body, and needs to be accomplished before the arrival of President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf to the Capitol Building for her Annual Message next Monday.
The authoritative source who said he played a very important and decisive role in the election of former Senator Gbehzohngar Findley as Pro Tempore, told our reporter that the ‘Majority Bloc’ is looking forward to a timely election, followed by elections of Leadership Committee heads.
Another stalwart of the Senate ‘Majority Bloc’ who begged anonymity told this paper that his colleagues’ call for elections to be held sooner than later, is not due to fear that their candidate may lose, but because several legislations that need timely enactment, remain on the Senate’s docket.
But in an interview by phone with this paper yesterday, newly elected River Cess County Senator, Francis Saturday Paye, said the Senators, especially those who are just coming to the Upper House, need more time to examine the candidates who are vying for the Pro Tempore post.
On the question of whether there is a need for a Pro Tempore before the President’s Annual Message next Monday, Senator Paye, who left the Lower House as Representative to run for the Senate, said he is yet to come across such a stipulation in the Senate Rules or the Constitution.
The former Representative-turned-Senator said as a Southeasterner, he was throwing his weight behind the candidacy of Senator Joseph Nagbe of Sinoe County, and that he was sure of victory. “I don’t believe in defeat,” he said.
One school of thought sees Senator Morais, who had earlier tried to argue on the line of succession in the absence of a Pro Tempore, may be after all, trying to entrench himself in that post, and is in no rush to make election date an agenda issue.
When contacted last evening, Gbarpolu Senator Armah Jallah, a ‘Majority Bloc’ favorite, sounded optimistic and claimed that his bloc members are in constant consultative contact with their new colleagues.