The Liberian Legislature has rejected President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf's plea for more power to restrict movement, free speech, religious practices and seize private property in the fight against Ebola.
The President early this week communicated with the Legislature seeking more “emergency power” aimed at combating the spread of the virus. In an extraordinary session Friday, October 10, in Monrovia, Lawmakers in the House of Representatives overwhelmingly agreed to disallow said request, noting that such request is "undemocratic and does not, in any way, assist the fight against Ebola" as claimed by President Johnson Sirleaf.
According to two opposition lawmakers, Acarous Gray and Bhofal Chambers, "The President's request is illegal and counterproductive to the fragile democracy the country is fighting to uphold."
However, Matthew Zarzar, a lawmaker from the President's party, counter argued: "The President needs these powers in order to adequately tackle the decease."
There was only one abstention, in person of Montserrado District 1 Representative Josephine Francis. Rep. Francis declined to state her reasons. She is one of those politicians and entrepreneurs, who have received significant political supports from President Sirleaf.
Relative to the power to suspend the pending Special Senatorial Election, the Legislature agreed on a Joint Resolution seeking to conduct election not later than December 20, 2014.
President Sirleaf last Thursday announced the postponement of the ensuing election, a decision lawmakers described as "unconstitutional."
The Senatorial Election was scheduled for October 14, 2014 but will be postponed because of measures put in place by government to stop the spread of the deadly Ebola Virus which has caused the death of thousands of Liberians and undermined the security of the country.
Lawmakers informed the President noting: "Now, therefore, the 53rd Legislature assembled in a ‘Special Session’ during its Extraordinary Sitting, consistent with Article 86 (a) and (b) of the Liberian Constitution, hereby resolve that the conduct of the Senatorial Election be postponed.”
“Voting for President, Vice-President, members of the Senate and members of the House of Representatives shall be conducted throughout the Republic on the Second Tuesday in October of each election year.”
The Joint Resolution also mandates the National Elections Commission to set a date in consultation with stakeholders to ensure that the Senatorial Election is conducted not later than December 20, 2014.
“Now, therefore, be it resolved, that the 53rd National Legislature through its Special Session during its Extraordinary Sitting mandates the National Elections Commission (NEC) to set a date in consultation with stakeholders for the conduct of the 2014 Senatorial Election not later than December 20, 2014,” the Joint Resolution concluded."