In accordance with the standing rules of the Senate, the Secretary of the Liberian Senate yesterday announced to the Plenary that the position of President Pro Tempore of the Senate was vacant, along with three Statutory (Leadership) Committees.
The Secretary then announced vacancies for the chairs on the committees of Executive; Ways, Means, Finance & Budget; and Rules, Order & Administration.
Former President Pro Tempore Gbehzohngar Findley was lost the December 20th Special Senatorial Election, after just serving the post for three years.
Like Findley, former Senators Clarice Jah the Chair on Executive; Lahai Lansanah, chair on Rules, Order & Administration; and Sumo G. Kupee, Chair on Ways, Means, Finance & Budget, were all defeated in the Special Senatorial polls.
The announcement of the vacancies by the Secretary was done under the Senate Rule 19, which deals with the suspension and removal of the President Pro Tempore and other officers of the Senate.
In line with that announcement, the Senate, in accordance with Section 2b, is expected to conduct election in plenary within the period of 30 calendar days to fill the vacancy of Pro Tempore, and other declared vacant posts.
The Senate plenary, however, failed to discuss and come up with the timetable for the elections.
But Section 3c 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 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.
Already, prior to yesterday’s announcement, several ranking Senators have been busy forming political blocs in preparedness for the battle ahead for the Pro Tempore post.
Currently, Senators Armah Zolu Jallah, Gbarpolu County; Oscar Cooper, Margibi County and Joseph Nagbe, Sinoe County, have long ‘let the pigeon out of the bag’ and the contest is on.
Several Senators of the ranking category including their favored candidate, Armah Jallah, were yesterday seen trying to win more members to their “Majority Bloc” from among the new comers.
Meanwhile, in his 2014 state of affairs of the State briefing yesterday, Secretary of Senate J. Nanborlor F. Singbeh informed the plenary that his office received a broad spectrum of legislations, totaling 129; of that number, he said the Senate plenary was able to pass 57 of those bills, while he said 72 are still being processed by the Senate’s respective oversight committees.
Secretary Singbeh said the Senate also adopted two resolutions and two certificates of extensions. “The office is also pleased to apprise you that out of the 57 resolutions passed by the Senate, 24 were instruments accompanied by bills of ratifications; 20 bills enacted and bills seeking amendments were 12.”
Of those bills passed, Singbeh said, 23 originated from the Liberian Senate, while that body concurred with the House of Representatives on 34 bills.
Secretary Singbeh disclosed that the Liberian Senate received 148 Presidential nominees for confirmation considerations, in accordance with Article 54 of the Constitution of Liberia during the 53rd Session, and confirmed 146 while two were denied or rejected.
For the period under review, the Senate’s Chief Scribe said his secretariat was able to process several requests in favor of members and staff of the Senate, and expeditiously implemented all mandates from plenary.
Singbeh concluded by cautioning the newly inducted Senators to remember the oath they took Wednesday “before God and man” that besides pledging to uphold and defend the Constitution of Liberia, but also that of the standing rules of the Senate; “we shall hold you by this.”
He continued: “In this light, we are of the strong conviction that the rules of the Senate will be upheld and defended, not forgetting Rule 16, which laid up the functions of the Secretariat, thereby making it more functional in these times of open, free and transparent legislature or parliament, in accordance with international rules of the Inter-Parliamentary Union of which Liberia is a founding member.”
The vacancies announcement and summary of the state of affairs of the Senate address were the only agenda item discussed at the 2nd day sitting of the 4th Session.
In a breaking news yesterday evening, the Daily Observer learned that the Justice in Chamber, Justice Philip A.Z. Banks, commencing at 2 p.m. will conduct hearings in all matters relating to injunctions filed against Senators-elect Varney Gboto Nyambi Sherman of Grand Cape Mount County; Morris Gato Saytumah of Bomi, and Dr. Jim Wombah Tornolah of Margibi County in the just-ended Special Senatorial Election.