The Senate of the Republic of Congo

Current President of the Senate of the Republic of Congo

H.E Pierre Ngolo

 

 

Overview on the Senate of the Republic of Congo

 

Background:
As in other countries in the region, the democratic transition towards a pluralistic system began in the Congo in the early 1990s (with the abolition of the Marxist regime introduced in 1970, the People's Republic of Congo). The country's political life, however, was particularly struck, as the various factions vying for power clashed with arms several times during the decade, particularly in 1993-1994, 1997 and 1999. The signing of a peace agreement between the different political forces in December 1999 seems to have marked the beginning of a period of normalization. New political institutions were in fact implemented in 2002 with the adoption by referendum of a new constitution establishing a presidential system and a bicameral parliament (text approved by 84.26% of votes cast). The same year, elections were held in accordance with the new Constitution: presidential election on March (Denis Sassou Nguesso won the election), legislative, local, regional and Senate elections (from May to July).


I - COMPOSITION
The Senate represents the local authorities. It has 72 members (since the last renewal in 2008, following the creation of the new Department of Pointe-Noire), elected for six years by indirect election of local government councils.


II - ELECTORAL SYSTEM.

The Chamber is half renewable every 3 years (first election: 11/07/2002, last renewal: 5/8/2008).
Senators are elected in one round majority uninominal ballot by the members of the department and municipal councils.

The Senate term includes:
- a system of incompatibility: the term is incompatible with any other public position (art. 95 C);
-  a system fixing eligibility conditions: being 45 years old at least, being Congolese national, living in the country, enjoying its civil and political rights and having not been convicted of a crime (art . 92 C);
- A system of immunity (art. 101 C);
- A system of allowances (art. 91 C).

 

An elected senator presented by a political party or group, who resigns from his party or political group during his term of office, shall lose his position as a senator.

 

III – SESSIONS SYSTEM
There are 3 sessions per year convened by the President of the Senate (Article 103 C):
- The first opens on 20 March, 
- The second opens 2 July,
- The third opens on 15 October,
Each one is for a maximum period of 60 days.

 

Extraordinary sessions are convened by the president of the Senate and according to a determined agenda, on the initiative of either the President of the Republic or the absolute majority of senators. (art. 105 C).

 

The sessions are closed on the exhaustion of the agenda, and at most 15 days after their opening.


IV - RELATIONS WITH THE OTHER CHAMBER AND THE EXECUTIVE POWER


A - THE LEGISLATIVE POWER


  1. Legislative initiative
    Senators have right to propose legislation (art 118 C) and to lay amendments on the table (article 123 C) concurrently with the President of the Republic and the deputies.

  2. Right of amendment.
    The right of initiative is limited by some inadmissibility:

    - Financial inadmissibility (art. 119 C), as the private bills and parliamentary amendmentsentailing either an increase or a reduction in public expenditure shall be accompanied with the proposal of equivalent revenue or savings.


- Inadmissibility aiming to protect the field of ​ law (art. 120 C)

 

  1. Ordinary legislative procedure

Bills, deliberated in the Council of Ministers after the Supreme Court advice are filed to the one or the other chamber. After, Government and private bills shall be dropped to one of the standing committees which number is determined by each chamber's rules of procedures. On request of the President of the Republic or the chamber referred to, Government and private bills shall be sent for examination to committees particularly designed for this purpose. The legislative procedure is based on a shuttle between the two chambers (art. 121-123 C).

 

Both chambers shall examine successively any Government or private bill, with the view to adopting an identical text. A chamber referred to, on a text already passed by the other chamber, deliberates on the text transmitted.

 

In the event of a disagreement between the two chambers, a government or private bill has not been adopted after one reading by each assembly, the President of the Republic has a right to call for a joint committee in charge of proposing a text on the provisions that remain under discussion. The text elaborated by the joint committee may be submitted by the President of the Republic to the two assemblies for their approval. No amendment shall be admissible except with the President of the Republic's agreement.

If the Joint Committee fails to adopt a joint text, the President of the Republic may, after a further reading by the National Assembly and the Senate, give the last word to the National Assembly. In this case, the National Assembly may reconsider either the text drafted by the joint committee, the modified last text passed by the deputies, if necessary, by one or more amendments adopted by the Senate.

 

Before the expiry of the promulgation, set at 20 days after the transmission of the text by the bureau of the National Assembly (5 days emergency declared by the President), the President may ask Parliament second deliberation of the law or some of its articles. In this case, the vote is acquired by a majority of two thirds of the members of the National Assembly and the Senate assembled in congress.
If, after this last vote, the President refuses to enact the law, the Constitutional Court referred to by him or by the chairman of the one or the other assembly, examine the constitutionality of the text. If the Court declares the law complies with the Constitution, the President of the Republic promulgates.

 

  1. Special legislative procedures

  2. a) Organic Laws
    - a government or private organic law may not be examined and voted in the first assembly referred to for 15 days after it has been filed. If there is no agreement between the two assemblies, the text may be finally adopted by the National Assembly only with an absolute majority of the members. It may be promulgated only after being declared in conformity with the Constitution by the Constitutional Court.(art. 125 C).

     
  3. b) Finance Laws
    Finance laws resulting from a project presented by the President at least one week before the beginning of the October session (Article 126 C).
    The budget must be passed by parliament at the end of the October session, that is to say, in mid-December; otherwise, the President shall convene a special session to vote. If at the end of this session, a period of at most 15 days, the budget has not yet voted, it is established by ordinance after notice of the Constitutional Court (art. 127 C).

  4. c) Legislative Referendum
    The referendum initiative is shared between the parliament and the President of the Republic.

The President of the Republic may, after consulting the presidents of both assemblies, submit to a referendum any Government bill relating to the organisation of public authorities, to the preservation of fundamental rights and liberties, to the economic and social action of the State or allowing the ratification of a treaty. (Art. 86 C).The President of the Republic shall previously refer to the constitutional Court for the constitutionality of the text.  In case the conformity is not established, the referendum cannot take place.

Constitutional provisions regarding the right of Parliament to propose a referendum are incomplete, since the text simply states that Parliament "has initiative of referendums, concurrently with the President of the Republic." (art. 110 C).

  1. d) Legislative Empowerment
    The President of the Republic may, for the execution of the program, ask Parliament legislative authorization for a period and for specific matters.If the request for enabling legislation is not accepted, then the President of the Republic may use ordinances according to the Constitutional Court’s 

Ordinances are rendered null and void if the draft ratification bill is not presented to Parliament by the date fixed by the Enabling Law (art. 132 C).


  1. POWER CONTROL

The Senate has different ways to control the action of the executive (art.89 C):
- questions to a minister,,
- oral and written questions of current interest, 
-  hearings in committee,
- parliamentary inquiry

     Parliament authorizes the ratification of peace, defense, trade, natural resources treaties, agreements relating to international organizations, those involving the public finances, modifying law provisions of a legislative nature, those relating to the state of people, and those involving transfer, exchange or addition of territory.
The Parliament is informed of any negotiations for the conclusion of an international agreement not submitted to ratification.


  1. RELATIONSHIP WITH THE PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC

The President may, at any time, send messages to the Senate (or Assembly), which do not give rise to any discussion. Once a year, he addresses a message on the state of the nation in Parliament sitting in joint session.

 


  1. MISCELLANEOUS PROVISIONS
  2. REVISION OF THE CONSTITUTION
    The initiative belongs jointly to the President together with members of Parliament. When it comes from Parliament, the proposed revision must be approved by two thirds of the members of the two Houses convened in congress,after receiving a conformity agreement from the Constitutional Court.In any case, the revision is definitive only if approved by referendum.
  3. B.COMPETENCES IN EXCEPTIONAL CIRCUMSTANCES.
    The declaration of war is authorized by the Parliament convened in congress. In the event of exceptional circumstances,the Parliament sits usefully; the declaration of war shall be decided during the Council of Ministers by the President of the Republic who immediately informs the Nation.

- The extension of the state of siege and the state of emergency beyond 15 days shall be authorised by the Parliament sitting as of right in Congress if it does not sit in ordinary session. When, after exceptional circumstances, the Parliament cannot sit, the President of the Republic may decide to maintain the state of emergency or state of siege.

President of the Senate shall be consulted by the President of the Republic before the implementation of exceptional measures when there is a serious and imminent threat regarding the Republic institutions, the independence of the Nation, the integrity of the national territory or the fulfilment of international agreements, and when the normal functioning of public authorities is threatened or interrupted.

In the event of vacancy by death, resignation or any other cause of definitive incapacity, the functions of President of the Republic shall be temporarily exercised by the President of the Senate for a maximum period of 90 days. President of the Senate cannot be then a candidate for the presidential election.
The President of the Senate, in the event of death or definitive incapacity of one of the candidates to the presidential election, may refer to the Constitutional Court for the prorogation of deadlines fixed by the Constitution for the elections.

 

  1. THE HIGH COURT OF JUSTICE
    The High Court of Justice is composed on equal numbers of deputies, senators and members of the Supreme Court, all elected by their peers.

May be indicted before the High Court:
- The President of the Republic in case of high treason,
- the deputies, senators, ministers, members of the Supreme Court and the Constitutional Court, for actions qualified as crimes or offences accomplished in the exercise of their duties.The indictment is made by the Parliament convened in congress, ruling on through a secret ballot by a 2/3 majority vote of its members.


  1. D.SPECIAL COMPETENCES OF THE PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE

The President of the Senate shall propose 2 out of the 9 members of the Constitutional Court for nomination by the President of the Republic

President of the Senate may refer to the Economic and Social Council for any economic- or social-related problem.

Bureau
Bureau of the Senate is composed as follows:
-President: Pierre Ngolo
- 1st Deputy President: Vincent NGANGA
-2nd Deputy President: Jeanne Emilie Ngoto
-1st Secretary: Philomena Fouty Soungou
-2nd Secretary: Dominique LEKOYI
-First Quaestor: Edouard Gakosso
-Second Quaestor: Dominique ALOKA

 

 

Address of the Senate: 
Palais des Congrès

P.O. Box 2642, Brazzaville

Tel. / Fax. +242 02 281 00 18
Mobile: +242 06 668 94 53
Email contact: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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