The Senate, often called the Upper House of the Legislature, has rejected a call to assemble for yet another Extraordinary Session by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf through a ‘mere letter or communication,’ arguing that it is unconstitutional.
The Senate, through its Secretariat, said in accordance with the 1986 Constitution there can only be an Extraordinary Session if the President issues a ‘Proclamation’ which she has the power to do under Article 32b of the Constitution.
The Secretary of the Senate, Nanborlor T. Singbe, in an exclusive interview with the Daily Observer on Saturday, clarified that the Legislature can only produce a
“Receipt of Certificate for Extension” when it is still in session but cannot when it has already adjourned – meaning the Legislature can only cut their break and return to Capitol Hill through a ‘Proclamation from the President’ after 48 hours of a formal letter of request for a special session.
Article 32b states: “The President shall, on his own initiative or upon receipt of a certificate signed by at least one-fourth of the total membership of each House, and by proclamation, extend a regular session of the Legislature beyond the date for adjournment or call a special extraordinary session of that body to discuss or act upon matters of national emergency and concern. When the extension or call is at the request of the Legislature, the proclamation shall be issued not later than forty-eight hours after receipt of the certificate by the President.”
“As far as we are concerned,” Singbe said, “there is no extraordinary session – constitutionally, when we are adjourned we cannot be called back to work through a receipt of certificate of extension but rather through a proclamation.”
Singbe’s clarity on the Secretariat’s position on the Special Session is against widespread speculation that the Senate is ignoring the President’s request for the return of the Legislature to enact several bills in order to keep the economy on an even keel.
Meanwhile, reports said the House of Representatives has already obtained signatures from over one-quarter of its members, as required to produce a “Receipt of Certificate for Extension.” However, their willingness to indulge the President could not be legally enacted if the Senate does not concur to legitimize their second extraordinary session.
There would be no Special Session if the Senate maintains its position except the President rewrites a letter of request for the special session and issues a proclamation within 48 hours.
Article 29 of the Constitution says “The legislative power of the Republic shall be vested in the Legislature of Liberia which shall consist of two separate houses: A Senate and a House of Representatives, both of which must pass on all legislation.”
Article 40 states that one house can open or adjourn for more than five days without the consent of the other and both Houses shall always sit in the same city.