-against Muslims’ opposition
Delegates at the Gbarnga National Constitutional Conference have overwhelmingly voted in favor of Count 24 from a list of citizens’ views summarized for validation, to particularly declare Liberia a Christian State.
However, decisions taken at the Gbarnga Conference are not final, as all counts being voted for would be drafted into bills and forwarded to the Liberian Legislature where lawmakers would then pass on issues they deem fit in their wisdom and circulate them to the public to prepare for referendum within a year.
At the week-long conference being held by the Constitutional Review Committee in Gbarnga, Bong County, Liberians of diverse religious, political and social backgrounds from in-country and the diaspora, are discussing and voting on at least 25 Counts drawn from suggestions made by citizens out of nationwide consultations by the CRC aimed at changing some provisions of the 1986 Constitution of Liberia.
But the conference has witnessed days of religious sentiments being expressed by members of Liberia’s Muslim Community, including protests against legislating Liberia as a Christian State. The protesting Muslims, on the other hand, want the legislation of Ramadan as a National Holiday.
The NewDawn’s staff at the conference says Christians mounted giant-sized speakers and played gospel songs in jubilation that the country, historically founded on Christian principles by free slaves from the United States, would “return to Christian State.”
A total of 416 votes were cast in favor of the proposition for a Christian State, against 18 votes that opposed Liberia being a Christian State. The NewDawn observed religious sentiments following the voting exercise on Thursday, April 2, 2015, as the Muslim Community announced a “Plan- B” to petition the Legislature against passage of Count 24 in total expression of unhappiness.
They are demanding that Liberia should remain a circular state, with arguments that legislating the country as Christian State would not stop corruption and bribery here, and provide paved roads, among others.
Additionally, more critical decisions have been made at the conference, as delegates have voted to reduce presidential term from six to four years; while terms for junior senator and representatives are equally being reduced to four years respectively, pending legislative approvals, which would eventually lead to referendum.
If approved by both houses of the Legislature here, senior senators’ term in office would also be reduced from nine to six years. All of these decisions would have to be made final only at a referendum.
Regarding dual-currency issues, the Gbarnga Conference has voted in favor of a single currency here, specifically the Liberia Dollars.
Delegates voted for a “Fifty-Fifty” equal opportunity among and male and female Liberians both for elected and appointed positions.
If this becomes law after referendum, it would now be binding here to set aside 50 percent elected posts to be contested exclusively by women, while men would contend for the remaining 50 percent.
Notwithstanding, voters at the Gbarnga Conference have thrown out new suggestions in the inheritance law, meaning that married couples would only share properties they acquired after marriage in case of divorce.
Commissioners and town chiefs will also be voted for, should the Gbarnga decisions successfully pass through the Legislature.
By Winston W. Parley