Liberia’s New Speaker Promises to Rebrand Legislature


Monrovia – The 54th Liberian legislature seems set to ‘rebrand’ itself after electing a controversial and tough-talking Maryland County representative as speaker and Grand Kru Senator as Pro-Tempore of the Senate.

Report by Henry Karmo – [email protected]

Both Representative Dr. Bhofal Chambers and Senator Albert Chie were elected on white ballot on Monday, 15 January 2018 to lead the Legislature.

Representative Prince Moye (UP, District 2, Bong) won as Deputy Speaker against incumbent Representative Hans Barchue (IND, District 1, Grand Bassa) by 41-25 votes.

Rep. Moye served as Chairman of the House Committee on Ways, Means, Finance and Development Planning in the 53rd Legislature.

Others elected to the leadership of the House of Representatives include, Mildred Sayon, Chief clerk, Deputy Chief Clerk Sayurh Geplay and General Martin Johnson as Sergeant-at-Arms.

Chambers’ election as Speaker is in fulfilment of Article 49 of the Constitution.

Article 49 states: “The House of Representatives shall elect once every six years a Speaker who shall be the presiding Officer of that body, a Deputy Speaker, and such other officers as shall ensure the proper functioning of the House.”

Chambers takes over from Atty. James Emmanuel Nuquay who risked it all to go as running mate to Vice President Joseph Boakai, who lost to soccer legend George Weah in the December 26, 2017 Presidential election.

Picked by Weah

From all indications, Rep. Chambers was not surprised that his new post was served on silver platter.

In his acceptance speech, he disclosed that it was a position promised him two years ago by President-elect George Weah.

“I want to thank Ambassador Weah who saw in me two years ago the potential of being a Speaker and promised that if he is elected President, he would make me the next Speaker of the Republic of Liberia; he is a man of credibility,” Chambers said.

Rebranding Legislature

The controversial lawmaker promised to build upon the weaknesses of the 53rd Legislature and fill in the gaps by rebranding the Legislature.

“We will treat our outgoing leaders with respect. They are our leaders; they tried. Whatever the gaps and weaknesses were, we will work to rebrand the legislature,” he said.

He challenged his colleagues in the House to maintain the honor bestowed upon them as the House, under his leadership, would work to build their prospects.

“We will build your prospects; by virtue of your presence here you are honourable; it is left with you to diminish that honor. Liberia is all we have and we should protect it based on the principles of legality,” he said.

Like President-elect Weah, Chambers called for reconciliation, noting that reconciliation would be the hallmark of the 54th Legislature.

Dr. Chambers has promised to appoint members of various committees of the House and their members later this week.

Senate Leadership

At the Senate, Senator Nyounblee Karnga Lawrence (LP-Grand Bassa County) was elected as Chairman on the Senate Rules, Order and Administration Committee; Morris Saytumah (Bomi County), chairman on the Ways, Means and Finance, while Senator Steve Zargo (LP-Lofa County), who also withdrew his interest of contesting for the Pro-Tempore at the eleventh hour, was elected ECOWAS Representative.

The Senate retained Senator Geraldine Doe-Sheriff as chairman on Executive, Cllr. Varney Sherman as chairman on Judiciary, Armah Jallah former Pro-Temp has been elected to chair the Senate Public Works Committee and Senator Dan Morias as Chairman on Foreign Affairs.

The functions of the Speaker

Call the Honorable House of Representatives to order at the commencement of each day’s session and shall proceed to business in manner prescribed in these rules.

Preserve order and perfect decorum and shall decide all questions of order subject to an appeal to the Honorable House of Representatives.

The Speaker shall see that members conduct themselves in a civil and orderly manner. When necessary, the Speaker may order the Sergeant-at Arms to clear the aisles and compel members to take their seats.

Appoint the Chairpersons and Co-chairpersons of Statutory Committees. 7.5 Appoint members of Statutory Committees in consultation with the House’s Leadership.

Appoint Chairpersons, Co-chairpersons and Members of Standing Committees in consultation with the House’s Leadership.

Transmit all directives of the   House of Representatives to the Chief Clerk.

In appointing the chairpersons, co-chairpersons and members of each Standing Committee, the Speaker shall take into consideration the partisan composition of the House, professional knowledge, expertise or experience of the individual appertaining to the functions of the committee to which he or she is appointed.

The Functions of the Deputy Speaker include:

In the absence of the Speaker, the Deputy Speaker of the   House of Representatives shall preside over the sitting of the August Body and shall exercise all rights and powers assigned to the Speaker.

The Deputy Speaker shall assist the Speaker in the discharge of his/her functions, and he/she shall perform such duties as the Speaker shall delegate or deem appropriate and shall also initial any financial and other transactions prior to the approval of the Speaker.

The Speaker and Deputy Speaker shall serve as Ex-Officials of all committees

Duties of the Chief Clerk

 The Chief Clerk shall perform the following duties and supervise all clerical businesses of the House of Representatives:

Ensure that the properties of the House are safeguarded.

The Chief Clerk is the custodian of the bills, amendments, resolutions and other legislative documents that are in possession of the House.

Ensure that the Journals and Records of the House are properly kept, and that the Records are deposited with the Achieves of the House immediately after the adjournment of the   House.

Provide the House Drafting Service with copies of all bills and resolutions introduced in the House and make available all information required for its work

Duties of Other Staffs

The Deputy Chief Clerk shall assist the Chief Clerk in the smooth operations of the staff of the House. In the absence of the Chief Clerk, he/she shall perform all duties and responsibilities as appertained to the office of the Chief Clerk.

The Engrossing Clerk shall properly engross all bills and other documents.

He/she shall cooperate with the Legislative Drafting Service in making available information required for the House. He/she shall also hold in his custody all documents turned over to him/her by the Chief Clerk for the Archives.

The Enrolling Clerk shall make a correct copy in hand writing of all bills which have originated in the House and which have been passed by the House and shall see that such copy is put in the Archives of the House. He/she shall prepare or cause to be prepared the official copies provided there from.

The Sergeant-At-Arms: shall be the chief police officer; under the direction of the Presiding Officer, the Sergeant-At-arms shall maintain good order in the hall, gallery, corridors, committee rooms, and on the floor of the House and in the adjoining rooms while the House is in sessions.

He/she shall dispatch all correspondence and shall sign for and receive all documents and other items coming to the House before turning them over to the Chief Clerk.

He/she shall supervise all Messengers and Doorkeepers. He shall be in attendance upon the Speaker, Deputy Speaker or Chief Clerk at all official functions; shall strictly enforce the rules regulating admission of persons to the floor of the House; shall maintain good order in the corridor, committee rooms, offices, and other areas under the exclusive use and control of the House; shall serve all subpoenas and warrants issued by the House or any duly authorized officer or committee; and on an order for a call of the House, shall forthwith proceed to arrest and bring those subpoena into the House.