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On Monday, January 15, 2024, the senate elected Grand Bassa County Senator  Nyonblee Karnga-Lawrence on a white ballot as the next President Pro Tempore of the 55th legislature, replacing Albert Chie.

Karnga-Lawrence election is to serve that august body for the next six years or be removed for a cause by the majority of the senators according to Article 47 of the 1986 constitution and Rule 19 of the senate standing rules. 

According to Rule 15 of the Senate standing rules, the pro-tempore shall preside over the senate in the absence of the Vice-president who is the president of the senate; and appoints co-chair and members on committees; appoint chair, co-chair and members on standing committees; responsible for cooperation and a cordial relationship between the senate and the house of representatives; serves as the principal intermediary between the executive and the senate; represent the senate at all public and official function, whether or not in session; sign all duly enrolled bills, resolution, and join resolution in the absence of the president of the senate; transmits all directives of the senate to the secretary and other offices and staff, supervises and monitors the expenditure of all funds which have been budgeted or allocated for the administration of the senate; all financial agreements for the provision of services, supplies, vehicles, equipment, renovations, furnishings, maintenance, and other contractual obligation over US$500 or its equivalent in Liberian dollars shall be in writing and same shall be forwarded by the President Pro-Tempore to the senate for its approval provided that those items of expenditure are included in the quarterly financial plan duty approved by the plenary of the senate; and supervises and directs all other administrative functions of the senate in keeping with administrative practices.

Since the election of Karnga-Lawrence by her colleagues, there have been claims and counter-claims as to whether she is the first elected female pro-tempore or not.

These claims that Karnga-Lawrence is not the first elected female President Pro-Tempore, but Grace Beatrice Minor published here while the  Daily Observer including here, here, here, here, here and here referred to her as the first elected female pro-tempore.

The Stage Media, to provide clarity on this subject, first looked at how those women became members of the Liberian Senate. 

Was Grace Minor elected to the Senate? 

The general elections were held on July 19,  1997, as part of the 1996 peace agreement ending the first civil war.  The voter turnout during that election was around 89% and former rebel leader Charles Taylor, the political leader of the National Patriotic Party (NPP), won the election with 75.3% of the vote, giving it about three-quarters of the legislative seats according to the proportional representation system.

After  Taylor’s success in the 1997 presidential election, Minor was appointed to the Senate, making her the only female in the government. Following the death of   Keikura B. Kpoto,  who was the President Pro-Tempore of the Senate, she was elected unopposed as President of the Senate in October 2002, making her the first woman to have held that position. 

How did Karnga-Lawrence become a member of the Senate?

Karnga-Lawrence, on the other hand, ran in a direct election, in which voters went to the polls and elected her to the Senate in two separate elections. Following the death of Senator John Whitfield in 2013, she was elected as the first female senator of Grand Bassa County, and then the special senatorial elections in 2020. 

Conclusion: With all of the available data, it is a fact that both Minor and Karnga-Lawrence were elected unopposed by their colleagues; however, Minor was not elected to the Senate but appointed, while Karnga-Lawrence was elected. 

Therefore, Karnga-Lawrence is the first elected female pro-tempore of the Senate and the second female pro-tempore of Liberia. 


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