Liberian Senate Finally Sets Pace For 2011 Elections
Story originally published on Ceasefire Liberia
By: Our Staff Reporter
The hurdle that many, including the National Elections Commission (NEC), have been citing for next year’s presidential and legislative elections in Liberia has been removed. The Liberian Senate finally came to an agreement with the House of Representatives in passing the threshold bill at 40,000 in the midst of protesting by senators who walked out of an extra session.
Seventeen senators voted in favor, six against, four abstained while two were absent, totaling 29 senators.
The passage of the threshold finally settled over two years of the Senate’s constant bickering, which has stalled the bill and which many have alluded to as crucial to the holding of next year’s general and presidential elections. The Senate was faced with the task of either concurring or disagreeing with the lower wing of the National Legislature and has been under constant, intense pressure from both the Liberian populace and some of the country’s international partners to pass the threshold bill.
The constitution mandates that the National Legislature must take a census every ten years.
Late last year, the Lower House passed the threshold at 40,000 and forwarded it to the Senate with the proviso that no single county loses its current seat which the Senate, after some months of bickering, also concurred with. But the decision was later vetoed by President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf who cited both ‘unconstitutionality’ relative to the proviso and further pleaded that the members of Capitol Hill set the threshold at least 50,000 for economic reasons.
The vetoed bill was immediately dealt with by the House who wasted no time but removed the proviso and sent it to the Upper House where the drama has been centered.
The extra-session, which was held in the Joint Chambers of the Capitol Building, witnessed heated exchanges of words and arguments among members of the Senate, which led to the walking out of some of the honorable men and women who had opposed the passage of the bill, leading to the rest of the Senate’s Plenary to later vote on passing a punishment for the walk-out senators.
The senators who boycotted the session included Grand Bassa County Senior Senator Gbezohngar Findley (independent), both senators of Maryland County John Ballout and Gloria Scott (UP), and both senators of Gbarpolu County Theo Momo and Daniel Naathen (UP), among others.
Their action was preceded with a motion of reconsideration, filed by Maryland County Junior Senator Gloria Musu Scott (Unity Party-UP), which met a massive defeat at the hands of 17 of her legislative colleagues.
“As it stands now, and as far as the Senate is concerned, the action of the 17 man-vote to defeat the motion of reconsideration confirms that the threshold is now passed”, said Pro-Temp Wortoson during a post-session news conference.
There have been pressures on all sides of the Liberian Senate for the speedy passage of the threshold bill, including the constant gathering of civil society groups, the National Elections Commission (NEC) and other Liberians. American Ambassador Linda Thomas Greenfield also joined in the fray in pressuring the Liberian Senate to speedily pass the threshold.
Tags: 2011 , Ambassador Linda Thomas G , Ceasefire Liberia , Election , Ellen Johnson Sirleaf , Legislature , Liberia , National Elections Commis , President , Presidential
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