By Bill W. Cooper
The Inquirer Newspaper has reliably learnt that the Legislature will, this week, take a leave off work for an entire month.
The adjournment which is not stated in law but, bent on precedence, will allow for lawmakers to leave work for an entire month in order to campaign for their preferred candidate in the upcoming run-off election, yet they will be entitled to salary for the month absent.
Leaving at a crucial time when the Legislature has pressing national issues aloof couple with its own transition due to the ousting of some members, said decision, if executed, might have far-reaching consequences on the governance of the country.
Furthermore, the decision to suspend legislative activities in the midst of political activities also seems unprecedented and might only add fuel to the fire of an already contentious political climate, even though there is no law that prohibits such decision.
The run-off election between incumbent President, George Weah of the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC), and former vice President Joseph Boakai of the Unity Party (UP), is scheduled to take place on November 14 of this year, to determine the next President of Liberia.
After a tightly contested first round of voting on October 10 of this year, the two candidates failed to obtain majority of the total votes cast (50 percent plus one), as required by the Constitution, thus emerging as the front-runners for a decider.
It is worth noting that Pres. Weah and former VP Boakai have secured substantial support in the Legislature, hence the eagerness of the legislators to dedicate their time and efforts towards the campaign, which seems very crucial.
During the October 10 polls, 103 legislators, which include 73 Representatives and 15 Senators, were voted for by the Liberian people. The lawmakers are now in session for the last sitting of the 54th National Legislature, before giving way to usher in the 55th Legislature.
But regardless, it is clear that the legislators’ action is a calculated strategy by them to mobilize their resources behind their chosen candidate, especially those who were not retained by the citizenry.
According to our legislative source, the decision was reached at the beginning of last week, following a closed-door meeting between both the leadership of the House of Representatives and Liberian Senate.
Our source also stated that the lawmakers could not announce the adjournment due to other pressing issues that needed to be addressed, disclosing, “But I can emphatically confirm to you that by this week, our bosses will adjourn to form part of the runoff campaign.”
Our source expanded that the legislative adjournment further provides an opportunity for lawmakers to connect directly with their constituents and further promote their candidate’s agenda, even though they have a constituency break for that.
Our source maintained that the move also allows legislators to rally support from their respective constituencies and leverage their influence to persuade undecided voters, adding that the decision also demonstrates their commitment to their candidates’ causes and beliefs.
Nevertheless, the adjournment of the legislative session will undoubtedly have an impact on the legislative agenda, as matters such as pending bills, debates, and committee hearings, will be put on hold, leaving a void that may potentially hinder governance and delay progress on important national issues.
Additionally, the absence of lawmakers from their legislative duties raises questions about accountability and the extent to which they can effectively fulfill their responsibilities.
With an entire month dedicated to campaigning by the legislators, the intensity of the runoff is set to escalate, placing even greater importance on the decision voters will make on Election Day.