In early December, outgoing President George Weah nominated Cllr. Frank Musa Dean, the current Justice Minister, to succeed Associate Justice Cllr. Joseph Nagbe on the Supreme Court.
The nomination of Cllr. Dean comes after His Justice Nagbe requested an early retirement due to illness in December.
Additionally, President Weah, with less than three weeks to transition in early January, nominated Samora Wolokolie as the new Commissioner General of the Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA). The president’s appointment of Dean and Wolokolie is by 1986 and Section 11(3) of the LRA Act, Title: Tenure of Office of Board Members on Vacancies.
Wolokolie, the current deputy Finance Minister, was to replace the late Thomas Doe Nah, who held the position since 2018 until his passing in December while seeking medical attention in India
Those nominations are subject to confirmation by the Senate according to Rule 55; however, the 54th could not conduct a confirmation hearing due to constant protests by Senate staff in demand for their salaries and benefits until its closure.
Today, January 22, President-elect Joseph Boakai will be inaugurated as the new president.
What is the fate of the two nominees?
The Liberian Senate states Rule 55, entitled “Executive Session Nomination Proceedings, states that when nominations are made by the President of the Republic of Liberia to the Senate, they shall, unless otherwise ordered, be referred to the proper committee for action.
It further states that all confirmations in the Senate shall be transacted in a closed-door executive session.
“The vote shall be by ballot unless by unanimous consent to the contrary, and the proceedings shall be kept secret, provided that the injunction of secrecy as to the whole or any part of the proceedings may be removed on motion adopted by a majority of the Senate.”
Furthermore, Section 3 states that when a nomination is confirmed or rejected, any senator may move for reconsideration on the same day the vote was taken or on the next two sitting days.
“Unless a notice of reconsideration is announced, all confirmation or rejection by the Senate shall be communicated to the President of Liberia after two working days of the Senate.”
The senate rule requested that a motion for reconsideration be deemed a stay order on the original question against which it is filed.
“No action shall be taken on the original question until the motion for reconsideration has been considered and disposed of.”
Section 4: A nomination confirmed or rejected by the Senate shall not be returned by the Secretary of the Senate to the President of Liberia until the expiration of the time limit for making a motion to reconsider the same or while a motion to reconsider is pending, unless otherwise ordered by the Senate.
Section 5 of Rule 55 says nominations neither confirmed nor rejected during the session at which they are made shall not be acted upon at any succeeding session without being again made to the Senate by the President; and if the Senate shall adjourn or take a recess for more than thirty days, all nominations pending and not finally acted upon at the time of taking such adjournment or recess shall be returned by the Secretary of the Senate to the President of Liberia and shall not again be considered unless they are again made to the Senate by the President.
Additionally, Section 6: Appointments made by the President of Liberia in the Executive and Judicial Branches of Government during the recess of the Senate or the Legislature, which are by the Constitution of Liberia, tradition, statute, and other laws subject to Senate confirmation, shall be communicated to the Senate at the end of the recess or adjournment.
“Section 7: All persons whose names have been submitted by the President of Liberia to the Senate as nominees for the appointment of public service shall be subject preliminarily to a Senate confirmation hearing before the proper committee. Confirmation hearings shall be public unless otherwise agreed upon by the full Senate. Such nominees shall present their curriculum vitae and other relevant data or information to the Office of the Secretary of the Senate if specially requested by the Senate.”
For Dean and Wolokolie, Section 5, the rule will lie according to Montserrado Senator Darius Dillon because the pair were neither rejected nor confirmed.
Dillon said the nominees can not be confirmed until there is a new nomination because the nominations are sine dine with the 54th and cannot be brought to the floor by the 55th.
Senate Pro-tempore Nyonblee Kangar Lawrence, however, said the rule is clear: the 55th Senate cannot make any decision on the nomination from the 54th. “We cannot bring that on the floor to discuss it because we don’t have the authority to go into that.”
Additionally, former Lofa senator Steve Zargo said the two could not be confirmed because of the rigmarole with the Supreme Court.
“The two nominees are null; it now moves to the new president to decide. It could be the same people but it is the prerogative of the new president,” said Zargo.
Conclusion: As Boakai takes office today, it is unclear whether the two will be reappointed to be confirmed by the Senate.