The issue of Liberia becoming a Christian state may not be given consideration for referendum by the Liberian Legislature. This is manifested in a recent communication by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf to members of the Liberian Senate.
In the communication, President Sirleaf scrapped proposition 24 of the Gbarnga National Constitution Conference held in March of this year, calling for Liberia to be a Christian State. President Sirleaf also requested that individuals of non-Negro can now obtain Liberian citizens, thereby giving credence to dual citizenship. The issue of Liberia becoming a Christian State was overwhelmingly voted for during Gbarnga Conference, organized by the Constitution Review Committee. At the conference, the issue regarding dual citizenship was massively defeated by the delegates.
The President, in the communication read in the Senate’s Plenary Tuesday during its regular session, noted that the issue of making Liberia a Christian State was less important to the developmental agenda of the country, adding that Liberia – since its independence in the 1847, has encouraged multi-religious practices.
The communication quoted the Liberian Leader as saying that it would be a serious problem that would undermine the much cherished religious tolerance being enjoyed by Liberians if the country was Christianized.
The president contended that the call contradicts the preamble of the 1986 Liberian Constitution, declaring the country as a free and sovereign independent state by the name and style.
In her proposal to the senate, she noted that such proposition should not be legitimized. President Sirleaf indicated that the constitutional validation process in Gbarnga, from which several propositions, including proposition 24, were derived grossly violates chapter XII, Article 91 of the Constitution stating: “This Constitution may be amended whenever a proposal by either (1) two-thirds of the membership of both Houses of the Legislature or (2) a petition submitted to the Legislature by not fever than 10,000 citizens with concurrence of two-thirds of the legislature.”
Commenting on the dual citizenship issue, the Liberian Leader added that acceptance of it will give Diaspora Liberians the opportunity to feel a part of their homeland, describing her decision as very important to the country’s reconciliation drive.
She pointed out that the Liberian Constitution, at the time, restricted the citizenship due to the discriminatory measures meted against them by other countries, especially the white race against black race. The dual citizenship debate resurfaced on January 27, 2010 when President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf delivered her Annual Message to the House of Representatives and Liberian Senate.
The President’s position would allow hundreds of thousands of Diaspora Liberians holding foreign citizenships to maintain all of the rights and privileges of the land of their birth and/or parentage. “A great human capital resource for the development of this country lies in the Liberian Diaspora,” the President told lawmakers. “We trust that as you move forward during this session, and in your deliberations, you will give adequate consideration to the recognition of citizens’ rights for those persons born as Liberians, and those born of Liberian parentage who wish to contribute fully to the development of this country as citizens. The grant of Liberian citizenship would enable us to draw on the wealth of financial, technical and other resources available to that category of persons that could be deployed nationally,” the President justified.
President Sirleaf’s letter to the Liberian Senate followed the presentation of the final report of the National Constitution Conference recently by the Constitution Review Commission Chaired by former Justice Gloria Musu Scott at the Foreign Ministry Office of the Presidency. – By E. J. Nathaniel Daygbor -Edited by George Barpeen