Senate, HOR Set November 16 Deadline for Four By-elections

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MONROVIA – The Plenary of the Liberian Senate has concurred with the House of Representatives on a decision to conduct the by-elections in four counties on November 16, 2021.

The vacuum created in the Legislature in four Bong, Nimba, Grand Gedeh and Bomi Counties came about as a result of the mid-term Senatorial elections held on December 8, 2020, wherein four Representatives, Edwin M. Snowe of Bomi County District 1, Jeremiah Koung of Nimba County District 1, Zoe Emmanuel Pennue of Grand Gedeh County District 1 and Prince K. Moye of Bong County District 2 became victorious as Senators in their respective counties.

However, in its concurrence with the House of Representatives to hold the four by-elections on November 16, 2021, the Senate agreed to do a resolution with a caveat that the failure of the NEC to hold the separate by-elections in four counties within the constitutional limit is rather attributed to the national health emergency, which served as an impediment to several activities within the country.

The motion for concurrence was proffered by Senator Conmany B. Wesseh of River Gee County. The Senate maintained that the holding of subsequent by-elections in accordance with the constitutional timeframe should not in any way be altered due to the lack of money.

With the Senate’s concurrence of the House’s resolution, the National Elections Commission (NEC) is now empowered to proceed with activities leading to the holding of by-elections in the four counties: Bong, Nimba, Grand Gedeh and Bomi.

The Plenary of the Liberian Senate on Tuesday, August 17, 2021 mandated its Joint Committee on Autonomous Commissions and Agencies and Judiciary, to scrutinize a request from President George M. Weah seeking a joint Resolution from the Senate for the conduct of By-elections in four political districts in the country.

The committee was mandated to report its findings to Plenary on Thursday, August 26, 2021.

President Weah in the communication said: ”I am pleased to forward self-explanatory communications from the National Elections Commission (NEC), informing me about the non-feasibility to conduct the By-Elections in Bomi, Bong, Grand Gedeh and Nimba Counties as required by law.”

The NEC, according to the Chief Executive, is looking forward to conducting these By-elections no later than November 16, 2021 and also request a joint Resolution from the Legislature.

”Honorable President Pro-Tempore, in consideration of the aforementioned, i kindly request a joint Resolution of the Legislature, mandating the National Elections Commission to conduct the four By-Elections no later than November 16, 2021,” The President letter stated.

NEC Communication to the President

NEC Chairperson Davidetta Browne Lasanah in a communication dated August 5, 2021 informed the President that the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning (MFDP) has provided 99.9 percent of funding for the By-elections, adding ”Therefore, the Commission is looking toward conducting these By-Elections no later than 16th November 2021.”

The Commission in its communication further informed the President that considering the 90-day mandate of Article 37 of the 1986 Constitution within which election for vacant seat should be held, the NEC is expecting to receive the Joint Resolution of both Houses by 18th August 2021.

The NEC at the same time told the President through the communication that these By-elections may be pushed to 2022 should the Joint Resolution be delayed beyond August 2021.

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