…May face contempt for failing to conduct two by-elections
Grand Cape Mount County Senator Varney Sherman has informed Senate plenary that he has submitted a letter to that body, through Senate President pro-tempore Albert Chie, to cite the entire workforce of the National Elections Commission (NEC) to appear before it for possible contempt charges.
Sen. Sherman, who chairs the Senate Committee on Judiciary, Claims and Petitions, told plenary during its 30th day sitting yesterday that NEC must appear to show cause, if any, why they should not be held in “contempt of the Legislature for usurping Legislative powers.”
Sherman’s statement was contained in a report and delivered during an hour-long PowerPoint presentation on the Constitution Review Commission (CRC) Report on 25 proposals currently before the Legislature for action.
As chairman of the Judiciary committee, the senator is using his expertise as a lawyer to review and recommend amendments to the CRC Report through a national referendum.
The NEC was one of several areas captured in Sen. Sherman’s presentation, and it was at that juncture that he questioned the power and authority of NEC to postpone the by-elections to fill vacancies created by the election of Senators Jewel Howard Taylor and George Weah as President and Vice President respectively.
“I believe that only the Liberian people, acting through their elected representatives(the Legislature), have that power. And so, I have submitted a letter to the Senate through its President Pro tempore to cite the entire NEC to show cause, if any, why they should not be held in contempt of the Legislature for usurping legislative powers,” Sen. Sherman noted.
How the Senate responds to that issue, Sherman added, “will show that it is possible for the Legislature to control and regulate excesses of the NEC.”
Following the arguments regarding the next course of action after his presentation, Sherman was again granted the power to proffer a motion and he did so. “Based on the presentation, we have shown that most of the proposals the CRC made are, in their point of view, statutory enactments and not necessarily Constitutional amendments, which we have identified in our presentation.
I therefore move that those matters which should have been listed as subjects of statutory enactment, be referred to the relevant committees for consideration; and those matters that are intended for Constitutional amendments be placed on the agenda for our next debate.”
In August 2012, a CRC was established with a specific mandate to review the 1986 Constitution and recommend proposals where necessary, for possible constitutional amendments as provided for under Article 91 of the Constitution. It can be recalled that on August 13, 2015, former President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf wrote the Senate, submitting the 25 proposed recommendations of the CRC. It contains certain proposals to be studied by the Legislature for possible action. Such could constitute proposals that would be submitted to registered voters for ratification through referendum.
But on August 26, 2015, Grand Bassa County Senator Jonathan Kaipay wrote a letter requesting the Senate’s action for breach of the Constitution by the Executive.