–As Senate observes moment of silence for fallen Rep J. Nagbe Sloh
An ad hoc committee of the Liberian Senate was on Wednesday, July 1, mandated by Senate plenary to prepare a resolution accepting President George Manneh Weah’s request for 30 days extension of the State of Emergency (SoE).
The Senate’s decision followed an exhaustive debate on the President’s recent communication to the Legislature requesting additional 30 days of the State of Emergency in the wake of the expiration of the original 60 days requested.
The Ad Hoc committee, headed by Senator Saah H. Joseph, includes Senators Henrique Tokpa, Stephen Zargo, Morris G. Saytumah, and Augustine Chea as members. They received the mandate of the Senate Leadership to deliberate justification forwarded to the Legislature by the President for the extension of the SoE.
In their findings, the committee noted that the number of confirmed Coronavirus cases have increased more than ten-fold as compared to when the state of emergency that was first declared, which they observed was now surging towards the 1,000 case mark.
The committee also lamented that the health protocols put in place were not being complied with by the population and that the containment of the Coronavirus disease requires extraordinary measures for the survival of the people and nation. Notwithstanding, all the efforts of the government to control the effect of COVID-19, especially the SoE declaration and attending restrictions on the movement of people, social distancing and wearing of masks, the committee asserted that the number of people infected by COVID-19 has immensely increased since the SoE declaration and thus the need for the continuation of the State of Emergency because the war against the COVID-19 must now be intensified.
“In the opinion of the ad hoc committee, the approval process for an extended SoE will provide the opportunity for the Legislature to make input into more stringent and/or additional measures necessary to contain the virus, as the Constitution clearly states that whatever measure is indicated by the Legislature in approving the state of emergency is irreplaceable and binding.
In their recommendation, the committee members noted that: “Following a thorough examination of the communication from the President for the extension of the SoE and its attending restrictions on the movement of people, social distancing protocols and wearing of masks coupled with the number of people affected by COVID-19 and its immense increase of confirmed cases and deaths since the SoE declaration, the committee hereby recommends that the request of the President for the extension of the SoE for 30 days be adopted and approved by the Senate…”
In their debate, the majority of Senators, including Oscar Cooper, Stephen Zargo, and J. Gbleh-bo Brown cautiously agreed with the President for additional 30 days, but with an enhanced stringent caveat that the health protocols be fully applied and made mandatory.
Montserrado County Senator Abraham Darius Dillon vainly argued against the additional 30 days but instead opted that the President takes advantage of the National Public Health law. Other Senators called for the appearance of members of the Incident Management Team before Senate plenary to state the outcome of the first 60 days, and what other measures that are needed during the next 30 days.
In his motion approving the President’s request, Grand Bassa County Senator Jonathan L. Kaipay stated thus: “Protemp, colleagues of the Liberian Senate, having debated the ad hoc committee report extensively, I move that the recommendations in the said report be endorsed by this body, and the request of the President be approved; and that the ad hoc committee be charged to draft a resolution that will capture all of the concerns expressed in this debate.”
Meanwhile, in a somber mood, the Senate, led by Protempore Albert T. Chie, yesterday observed a moment of silence for the passing of Sinoe County District #2 Representative Jay Nagbe Sloh.
In a brief statement, Protemp Chie asserted that although Representative Sloh passed away almost halfway through his tenure, “he has already made impressive strides towards the improvement of the lives of his people and contributed immensely to the enhancement of democratic values and principles. He was a vocal person who understood the rudiments of politics and exhibited high exuberance in debating the national agenda.”