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The Capitol Building, the seat of the National Legislature  The Capitol Building, the seat of the National Legislature 

As Legislature on the Verge of Return 10 Senators-Elect Placed On Hold

MONROVIA, LIBERIA -As the National Legislature is set to resume constitutional function following months of constituency break, the Liberian Senate is expected to be incomplete as 10 newly elected Senators of that august body are still awaiting the outcomes of legal battles.

It could be recalled that Liberians went to the polls on December 8, 2020 to elect a new batch of 15 of the 30 Senators, whose tenure were expired after serving for nine years. During the election, only three of the 14 Senators who sought re-election, namely; Abraham Darius Dillon of Montserrado County, NyonbleeKarnga-Lawrence of Grand Bassa County and Augustine Chea of Sinoe County were re-elected to their respective position, with 11 of the sitting Senators seeking re-election defeated.

However, since the election of these Senators, there been some legal wrangling from their different political rivals. Even though the Hearing Officer of the National Elections Commission (NEC) and the Board of Commissioners of the Commission has overturned some of those cases, several of them decided to forward their matters to the Supreme Court of Liberia, which is the final arbiter of justice in the country. Accordingly, while these cases; 10 in total are still pending before the NEC and the Supreme Court, the NEC on Wednesday, January 6, 2021 certificated five of the 15 winners, while it awaits the outcomes of the remaining 10.

Those certificated by the country’s electoral body on Wednesday include: Senators Abraham Darius Dillon of Montserrado County, NyonbleeKarnga-Lawrence of Grand Bassa County, Prince Moye of Bong County, former Emmanuel Nuquay of Margibi County and Jonathan Boye Charles Sogbie of River Gee County. Interestingly, four of the five certificated Senators are from the main opposition political force, the Collaborating Political Parties (CPP). The CPP is a conglomeration of four political parties, namely; Unity Party (UP), Liberty Party (LP), All Liberian Party (ALP) and Alternative Liberian Congress (ANC). Senators Dillon and Karnga-Lawrence are from the LP, while Senators Sogbie and Moye are from the UP. Former Speaker Nuquay comes from the People’s Unification Party (PUP).

The Senators-elect, whose elections have been contested, are: Edwin Melvin Snowe-Bomi, Wellington Geevon-Smith-River Cess, Augustine Chea-Sinoe, Brownie J. Samukai-Lofa County, Jeremiah Koung-Nimba (Movement for Democracy and Reconstruction-MDR), Simeon Taylor-Grand Cape Mount (ANC/CPP), Numinee T.H. Bartekwa-Grand Kru (Independent), James Biney-Maryland (Coalition for Democracy-CDC) and Zoe Emmanuel Pennue-Grand Gedeh (CDC). The race in Gbarpolu, which was scheduled to be re-run in four of the 144 disputed voting centers also suffered setback and could not be held as rescheduled for Wednesday, January 6, 2021 following a writ of prohibition filed by the lawyer of the CDC Candidate, Cllr. Arthur Johnson before the Supreme Court of Liberia.

The certification of the five Senators will mean there will be only 20 Senators during the reopening of the Legislative Branch of the Liberian government if the others are not certificated before Monday. Constitutionally, the Senate, otherwise known as the Upper House of the Liberian Legislature, will meet the two-thirds majority for major decision making process, and will have quorum for the holding its regular sessions; however, the number will be incomplete. This means that in case of any descending view of a majority decision making process, that decision will not be passed as required by law as it will lack the required majority.

 

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