The Chamber of the Liberian Senate was charged on Thursday, June 21, 2018, with an intense debate over a proposed amendment to the 1986 Constitution of Liberia, to insect changes in Article 45, 46 and 48 of the constitution.
Senator Varney G. Sherman of Grand Cape Mount County on May 21, 2018 proposed to the Senate to amend the three above Articles of the Liberian Constitution, but the proposed legislation was read and subsequently forwarded to the Senate’s Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights, Claims and Petitions.
With respect to the proposed amendments, Cllr. Sherman indicated that Article 45 of the Constitution shall be amended to be read as follow:
“The Senate shall be composed of two categories of Senators: The first category of Senators shall be two for each county elected by the registered voters in each county and the second category shall be a Senator, who is a candidate for President in a general and Presidential elections and took second place in that election if he/ she had been elected President.
In the proposed amendment, Cllr. Sherman noted that a Senator who was a candidate for President in a Presidential election and came second shall “ipso facto” be a senator of the Republic.
In his proposed law, the Grand Cape Mount County Senator said a Senator who was a candidate for President in a Presidential election and came second shall “ipso facto” be a senator of the Republic shall not be elected in a by-election to fill a vacancy created by death, resignation, and expulsion or otherwise of previous Senator for the Republic.
In a section of the amendment Cllr. Sherman further noted that Article 46 of the Constitution shall be amended to include, a Senator elected for a County by the registered voters of that County shall serve for a term of seven (7) years, and a Senator for the Republic shall serve for a term of five (5) years (the same term that he/ she would have served had he/ she been elected President.
In section three of his proposed amendment, Senator Sherman also said Article 48 of the Constitution shall be amended, that the House of Representatives shall be composed of two categories of Legislators:
“The first category of Legislators shall be elected by registered voters in each legislative constituency of the counties and the second category shall be a Legislator, who was a candidate for Vice President in a general Presidential election and took second place in that election”.
He went on to state that a Legislator who was a candidate for Vice President in a Presidential election and came second shall “ipso facto” be a Legislator of the Republic shall not be elected in a by-election to fill a vacancy created by death, resignation, and expulsion or otherwise of previous Senator for the Republic.
“A Legislator from the County shall be elected for a term of four(4) years, and a Legislator for the Republic shall be elected for a term of five (5) years, which is the same term that he/ she would have served had he/ she been elected Vice President” Cllr. Sherman added.
The proposed Bill which was subjected to the plenary debate yesterday was greeted with serious resistance by many of the Senators.
To begin with, Nimba County Senator, Thomas Grupee, described the proposed law by Cllr. Sherman as a recipe for more confusion.
Senators, Daniel Nyentan of Gbarpolu, George Tengbeh of Lofa, Sen. Henry Yallah of Bong Gblo-bo Brown of Maryland, Karnga Lawrence of Grand Bassa among others seriously opposed the proposed law.
While other Senators like, Peter Coleman of Grand Kru, Alphonso Gaye of Grand Gedeh, Milton Teahjay of Sinoe, Armah Jallah of Gbarpolu, Steve Zargo of Lofa, Cummany Wesseh of River Gee among others said the law is intended for political accommodation so as to reduce tensions, but agreed that there is need for further research and relook.
Following the debate, the Plenary of the Senate unanimously agreed for the proposed law to be forwarded to the committee room for additional scrutiny.