Senate Rushes into Executive Session

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The President Pro Tempore of the Liberian Senate yesterday announced what appeared to be a surprising motion for an executive session, minutes after the Secretary of the Senate had read the first of two agenda items prepared for the 76th day sitting of that body.

One of the two items, which came under the title, ‘Business on President’s Desk,’ included a communication from Montserrado County Senator Joyce Musu Freeman-Sumo in which she submitted a summary report of the proceedings at the 5th Ordinary Session of the 3rd Pan African Parliament (PAP).  That Session was convened last month in Johannesburg, South Africa.

The members of the plenary, who were already in receipt of her report, thanked her for ably representing the Senate and asked that the document be placed in the Senate’s file.

It was after the reading of Senator Freeman-Sumo’s communication that President Pro Tempore Gbehzohngar Findley announced a motion for executive session and was unanimously approved.

The next item under the title: ‘Report from Standing Committees’ would have been a report from the Joint Committee on Autonomous Commissions & Agencies and Judiciary, Claims, Petitions and Human Rights on a communication from the National Elections Commission (NEC), on request made to approve the proposed Senatorial Election Date.

As usual, journalists who stayed around the Chamber of the Senate went home late yesterday, without knowing what was decided behind the mahogany doors of that august body.

However, authoritative Legislative sources confided to this newspaper late yesterday evening that the Senate was deliberating on whether to go along with the NEC’s December 16, 2014 date for the conduct of the Special Senatorial Election.

The NEC boss, Cllr. Jerome Korkoyah, had informed the Legislature that his decision stemmed from the overwhelming acceptance of the new date during comprehensive consultations organized by his Commission in collaboration with other international bodies.

Like the Liberian Senate, the House of Representatives, too, went into Executive Session yesterday to conclude discussions on the election date. Reports say the House of Representatives is proposing the 16th of December, while the Liberian Senate is opting for the 30th of December, but the conference committee is proposing the 23rd to harmonize and resolve the matter.

The issue about the extension of the state of emergency for 30 more days as recently proposed by Bong County Senator Jewel Howard-Taylor was expected for discussion yesterday, according to inside sources.

In a related development, a joint resolution No. 003/2014 adopted by both the Senate and House of Representatives has resolved that NEC, “the agency of government authorized to hold general and Special Elections, is hereby accordingly directed to schedule the commencement of the  campaign process for the 2014 Senatorial Elections the first week of December 2014, and that the conduct of elections shall be held throughout the Republic of Liberia on December 30, 2014.”

This joint resolution may seem as though the issue of the 2014 Senatorial elections has already been decided.  However, it cannot become law until it has been signed by the leadership of both Houses, the Senate and the House of Representatives.

Furthermore, the fact that both houses yesterday, immediately upon convening, proceeded into executive session, gave observers the impression that there were certain urgent matters, probably including the elections, that were yet to be concluded.

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