The Liberian Legislature comprising the Senate and the House of Representatives is expected to officially end its 3rd working Session on Friday, December 12 and proceed on Annual or Constituency Break, previously known as Agriculture Break.
The Legislature, which is the 1st branch of government, usually embarks on its annual break immediately after the passage of the National Fiscal Budget in August or September of each year, but owing to the outbreak of the deadly Ebola Virus Disease (EVD), and in keeping with article 32 “B” of the Liberian Constitution the Legislature extended its regular session beyond the date for adjournment and called for a special or extraordinary session.
The certificate of extension for the extraordinary session was signed by more than two-thirds of both Houses of the Legislature.
The Legislature’s action for a special session was pursuant to the 90-day State of Emergency, declared by President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf last August, which demanded the Legislature to convene and remain in special session during the entire period of the State of Emergency, according to Article 87 of the Constitution.
At the end of the State of Emergency, having acknowledged that there were several essential legislations of national concerns which demanded its urgent attention, the Legislature extended its extraordinary session by a month, from November 12 to December 12.
“We hereunder affixed our signatures, pursuant to Article 32(b) of the Constitution of the Republic of Liberia (1986) for the extension of the 3rd Regular Session of the 53rd Legislature for one month beginning November 12, 2014 to December 12, 2014,” the certificate of extension from each House said.
However, Press Directors of the Senate and House of Representatives, respectively, Jarlawah Tonpoe and Isaac Redd said each House is expected to have its separate closing program with speeches from the President Pro- Tempore Gbehzohngar Findley and Alex Tyler.
“There will be no elaborate closing programs, the Speaker will give his closing speech to his colleagues and immediately after the speech, lawmakers will bid farewell to each other and depart for their annual break,” Mr. Redd said.
In keeping with Article 32 “A” of the Constitution, legislators are expected to resume normal activities the second Monday of January 2015 to begin the 4th seating of the body.
Article 32 (a) of the 1986 Liberian Constitution states, “The Legislature shall assemble in regular session once a year on the second working Monday in January.”
Accordingly, the Capitol Building, the official seat of the Legislature will witness the presence of several foreign diplomats, heads of political parties, cabinet ministers and other officials and civil society organizations as well as the president who by law should address the legislature January 12, 2015 as they turn out for the formal reopening of the legislature.
Article 46 ‘b’ of the Liberian Constitution says the seats of Senators of the first category shall be vacated at the expiration of nine years, which suggests a possible constitutional crisis.
Even though, members of the House of Representatives are expected to return and form a quorum (two-third of the 73 members) the Senate shall not form a quorum (two-third of 30 Senators), which means the first branch of government shall not assemble.
Article 40 of the Constitution indicates that neither House shall adjourn or commence for more than five days without the consent of the other nor shall both Houses always sit in the same city.
The Constitution also says, in Article 29, that the Legislative power of the Republic is vested in the Legislature, which consists of two separate Houses; a Senate and a House of Representatives.