Liberia: House of Representatives Holds Secret Session to Discuss President Weah’s Constitution Amendment Proposals
MONROVIA – Members of the House of Representatives on Tuesday, August 20 locked themselves up to begin what sources say was an acrimonious debate on the amendment of sections of the 1986 Constitution of Liberia.
At a presidential and legislative retreat last weekend, President George M. Weah presented to the lawmakers’ proposals to amend Articles 28, 45, 46, 48, 49, 50, and 56 of the Constitution.
In addition to the President’s proposals to amend sections of the Constitution, other items on Tuesday’s agenda included the appearance of the Attorney General of the Republic of Liberia, Justice Minister, Cllr. Frank Musa Dean, Jr. to give reasons why he ordered the postponement of the payment of the Road Fund Tax to the government.
To the surprise of legislative reporters, plenary voted in favor of the motion to hold session behind closed doors. Despite Rep. Clarence Massaquoi’s plead that some of the cardinal issues be discussed in open plenary, the movant denied his amendment and the entire Tuesday’s session was held in secret session.
Following the reading of the agenda by Deputy Chief Clerk, Sayfa Geeplay, a motion was filed by Rep. Isaac Roland of Maryland County calling for the entire session to be conducted in executive. Only a petition calling for urgent support towards the implementation of the National Mental Health Policy was done in public.
What President Weah Wants?
The President, in his series of proposals affecting Articles 45, 46, 48, 49 and 50, is suggesting reduction in the tenures of president and representatives from six years to five years, and the Senators from nine to seven years.
According to President Weah, the Legislators can seek re-election continuously, but a president will not seek more than two terms.
Article 45: “The Senate shall compose of Senators elected for a term of nine years by the registered voters in each of the counties, but a Senator elected in a by-election to fill a vacancy created by death, resignation, expulsion or otherwise, shall be so elected to serve only the remainder of the unexpired term of office. Each county shall elect two Senators and each Senator shall have one vote in the Senate. Senators shall be eligible for re-election.”
Discussions held in executive sessions are not publicly discussed by individual lawmakers unless authorized to do so. Based on this, most of the lawmakers were tightlipped at the end of session.
However, sources from inside told FrontPage Africa that most of the lawmakers are still skeptical with the President’s proposals and are demanding more time for review before deciding.