Liberia: Senate Votes to Maintain Old Order of Private Confirmation Instead of the Proposed Public Hearing and Voting


MONROVIA – Senators have voted against an amendment to the Senate standing rules on voting openly for or against the confirmation of officials nominated by the President of the Republic of Liberia and subject to confirmation proceedings.

Last week, Senate Pro-Tempore Albert Chie as part of his reform agenda proposed an amendment to Rule 66 of the Senate Standing Rules which speaks to confirmation of officials of government. The amendment was forwarded to the Senate Judiciary and Modernization Committees.

In the Committees’ reports, they recommended the passage of the amendment. The new amendment would have allowed votes taken for or against the confirmation of individuals to be done in the public contrary to the usual executive session decision.

Senators’ fear of reprisal

It became a majority view through their individual comments that doing so could have some security implication ranging from attacks on their lives or that of their relatives. In one of the argument, Senator Jim Tonorlah of Margibi County raised concern about society response to some of the decisions they take lawmakers.

“Honorable Pro-Temp, doing confirmation publicly is not healthy for our security, especially our society. People could target us for voting against their confirmation openly; it is better to remain with the old order of voting in secret or we do secret ballot.

Like Senator Tonorlah of Margibi County, Senators including James Biney of Maryland County, Prince Johnson of Nimba County, Daniel Nataahn of Gbapolu County, Milton Teahjay Sinoe County, and Steve Zargo of Lofa County all spoke and voted against voting openly for confirmation of individuals appointed by the President.

Pro-Tempore’s proposal

In keeping with his commitment and promise to institute reforms at the Liberian Senate, Senate Pro-Tempore Albert Chie wrote the Plenary of the Senate proposing an amendment to Rule 66, Section of the Senate Standing Rules on Executive Session on nomination discussion and vote.

Confirmation hearings of presidential nominees are conducted in open session with decision taken in executive session. The new rule as recommended by the Senate Pro-Tempore will require hearing and confirmation decision to be done in the open.

In his statement, Senator Chie revealed that the Plenary of the Senate decided to minimize Executive or closed-door sessions in a bid to foster democracy. “It is said that wherever there is even a small cloud of darkness, Democracy suffers,” Sen. Chie asserted.

According to him, Executive and closed-door sessions are now held only for issues of national security and to vote during confirmation of presidential nominees. He disclosed that there are plans to amend the Senate Rules to vote publicly during confirmation.

Still on voting, Senator Chie said votes of Senators are now recorded and published for crucial bills and instruments so that the constituents know how their Senators vote on issues.