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Liberia’s High Court Considers Stay of Senate Leadership Election

  • James Butty

FILE - Justices of the Supreme Court of Liberia.

FILE - Justices of the Supreme Court of Liberia.

Liberians are awaiting a decision of the Supreme Court on whether it will issue a stay of an election of the President Pro Tempore of the Senate scheduled for Feburary 12.

The petition was brought by the Campaigners for Change and the University of Liberia Student Union.

The vacancy came about after former Pro Tempore Gbezohngar Findley was defeated in a December special election.

Vandarlark Patricks, national director of the Campaigners for Change, said the Senate is supposed to have elections of its officers every six years and to do so before that time would be in violation of the constitution.

“We, the civil society organization, the Campaigners for Change, believe that it was prudent to petition the Supreme Court of the Republic of Liberia to interpret Article 47 of the Liberian constitution, which states that the Senate shall elect, once in every six years, a senate pro tempore to preside over that august body. What we are seeing is a gross violation of the constitution,” he said.

Senate Rule 19 calls for elections within 30 working days after the announcement of a vacancy in the case of the President Pro-Tempore being removed or expelled.

Patricks denied he and the other petitioners are trying to get the high court to interfere in the affairs of the legislative branch.

“The constitution is clear. Article 47 says the Senate shall, once every six years, elect a Senate pro Tempore. Interestingly, Article 38 of the Liberian constitution gives the Senate its own rules and procedures. But, it should be in conformity with the constitution of Liberia, specifically Article 2. Article 2 makes it very clear that any law that is not in conformity with the constitution of the Republic of Liberia shall have no legal effect,” he said.

Patricks said the Supreme Court, as a final arbiter of all constitutional issues, must stay Thursday’s election.

“In view of the foregoing, petitioners pray the court to restrain and prohibit the respondent from planning or conducting any President Pro Tempore elections pending the outcome of the proceedings,” the group said in its petition to the Supreme Court.

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