The long-awaited induction ceremony of Senators-elect following last month’s special senatorial elections took place yesterday in the Senate’s Chambers. Upon instructions from the President of the Senate, Vice President Joseph N. Boakai, the new senators were sworn in by the Secretary of the Senate.
The ceremony which, according to Senate Rules, should have taken place Tuesday, a day after the official resumption of Legislative duties on Capitol Hill, was deferred until yesterday by a unanimous vote of the 15 sitting members of the Senate.
Yesterday’s well-attended program started with the Sergeant-at-Arms ushering in the Senators-elect followed by the administering of the oath of office, and the ceremony of accompanying them to their appointed county seats again by the sergeant-at-arms.
The next and last activity was a group photo of the Senators and the President of the Senate in the Rotunda of the Capitol Building.
Once again, conspicuously absent from yesterday’s program were the three Senators who still have injunction issues with the Supreme Court.
In a brief post-induction comment, Vice President Boakai thanked the Senators for their willingness to render services to their country in what he described as “this sacred institution, the Liberian Senate.”
“Today, with the confidence reposed in you,” he added, “it is our expectation that you will serve this country for all of the generations unborn; and I want to welcome you into the sacred hall, and commend you for all that you have done to earn this day.”
For his part, the Acting Pro Tempore, Senator H. Dan Morais (Maryland), welcomed the newly inducted Senators, adding, “for those who were here with us, we are privileged and honored to have you back.”
The Maryland Senator, who chairs the Committee on Foreign Affairs, appealed to the new Senators to exercise patience as their offices were being readied for them.
Meanwhile, Senator Morais announced the convening of the leadership this morning, and thereafter, the new Senators will be informed when their offices will be ready.
The next important ceremony expected to take place within the Chambers of the Senate is the election of the Senate Pro Tempore, and other statutory posts made vacant due to the defeat of those who occupied them.
The Senate Secretary, within the next few days is expected to announce the vacancy for the Pro Tempore position and within the period of 30 calendar days, an election will be held under Section 3 of Rule 19 of the Senate Rules.
The Senators, who are eyeing the vacant seat, will declare their intentions 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 according to Section 3c of the Senate Rules.
The Secretary of the Senate will circulate all declarations received to all members of the Senate not later than five (5) calendar days prior to the date of the election.
The President of the Senate, or the Secretary on the day of the election, will preside, and the poll will be conducted consistent with guidelines approved by the plenary prior to the date of the elections.
Currently, there are three ranking Senators contesting for the post of Pro Tempore. Senator Armah Zolu Jallah, who chairs the Committee on Internal Affairs, Governance & Reconciliation, claims to be favored by the “Majority Bloc. Others are Senator Joseph Nagbe (Grand Kru), chair on Judiciary, and Senator Oscar Cooper, who chairs the Committee on Public Works.