New Senators Take Seats

By C. Winnie Saywah-Jimmy

Twelve of the 15 new senators have been comfortably seated which for now will enable the Liberian Senate have at least an almost full plenary to discuss issues that will enhance the growth of government and improve the lives of the ordinary people.

Those inducted by the Secretary of the Liberia Senate were Maryland County Senator, J. Gble-bo Brown, Sinoe County Senator J. Milton Teahjay, River Gee County Senator Commany B. Wesseh, Grand Kru County Senator Alfred Tugbe Chie, Grand Gedeh County Senator Marshall Dennis, Grand Bassa County Senator Jonathan Kaipay, Nimba County ranking Senator Prince Johnson, Bong County ranking Senator, Chief SuakokoCianeh Jewel Howard-Taylor, Gbarpolu County Senator Daniel Naatehn, LofaCouty Senator Steve Zargo and Montserrado County Senator George MannehWeah.

The ceremony is line with Chapter 2 Rule 2 Section 1 of the Senate rule which states that, “The oath of office shall be administered to each senator duly elected and certificated by the National Elections Commission in the Senate Chamber by the Secretary of the Senate upon the orders of the presiding officer.”

Meanwhile, as the Liberian Senate now has 27 members duly qualified to form a quorum and carry out its business while the fate of the remaining senators-elect who were barred from receiving their certificates to qualify them to be seated still lingers at in the Justice Chambers before Associate Justice Philip Z. Banks.

Those senators-elect whose election is being contested by some of their opponents are Grand Cape Mount County Senator-elect Varney Sherman who was declared winner by netting over 13, 000 votes as compared to his contesting opponent FodeeKromah who received over 3, 000 votes. Others are Bomi County senator-elect Morris Saytumah who beat the former chairperson on Rule, Order and Administration Lahai Lansannah and surprisingly two of the petitions received by Justice Banks were said to be from Margibi County complaining Senator-elect Jim Tornolah, a squarely new politician who received overwhelming support from his kinsmen.

The defeated candidates included outgoing Senator Bomi County LahaiLansannah, a university dean, AnsuSonii, FodayKromah and others who filed four separate petitions all of which are requesting the Justice in Chambers to deny the certification of the three of the National Elections Commission (NEC) declared winners in three counties namely Bomi, Grand Cape Mount and Margibi based on alleged irregularities among other things.

At the time it was only the four petitions from the three counties that were before the Justice in Chambers and upon hearing it, Associate Justice Banks could not reach a full conclusion into the matter but gave the NEC24 hours from the time of the hearing to define in its context the meaning of ‘returns’, as mentioned in Article 83 © of the Liberian Constitution.

Associate Justice Philip Banks said since it was the mandate of the NEC to conduct investigations into complaint of irregularities and other matters which to his knowledge was ongoing, the court was only interested in understanding why said investigations would be going on and the Commission proceeds with certificating winners in the just ended electoral process.

Meanwhile, Maryland County Senator Brown has clarified that the NEC has found no case for which his status should be revoked or that there should be a re-run as protested by defeated Pleebo District Representative Bhofal Chambers.

He said the NEC has sustained the decision made by the people of Maryland and what is before the Supreme Court is the Writ for a Prohibition and in that matter, he serves as 2nd respondent as the matter is in the hands of the lawyers representing the NEC even though he looks forward to the high court’s opinion.

Speaking to reporters following his induction as senator yesterday at the Capitol Building, Senator Brown said it is time to move forward but the first thing is to reconcile the people following the election and then embark on the Fish Town to Harper Highway, which was his initiative when he served as superintendent.

He said the road project is in its second phase which is the paving process and stressed that the connecting of major roads is his major priority. On the issue of the controversial SEFCA Agreement, he maintained that there has to be a consensus because there are issues in Pleebo District that all residents need to look at and be a part of its solution noting that one of the paramount issues is land.

Senator Brown said the Agreement must be fine-tuned because in those documents the issues of reserved land were not addressed, which were discussed with the Land Commission based on an approval from the President.

Now, with the induction of the bulk of the new senators completed, the mirror is turned towards the election and selection of individual senators to fill the chairperson positions on the leadership committees as well as standing committees in the Liberian Senate.