Liberia’s Constitution Review Committee, CRC has set referendum for propositions validated by Liberians at a constitutional review conference in Gbarnga, Bong County for May 2016.
CRC Chairperson Cllr. Gloria Musu Scott said the referendum will be preceded by publication of propositions validated during the Gbarnga conference.
Addressing reporters Tuesday, 12 May at the Ministry of Information, Cultural Affairs and Tourism’s regular briefing on Capitol Hill, Cllr. Scott said the conference held between late March and early April provided an historic highlight of post-conflict Liberia, focusing on sustainable peace and reconciliation through constitutional reform.
She noted that delegates in attendance spoke their minds through votes on issues to be submitted to the 53rd Liberian Legislature for debate and concurrence.
The CRC Chairperson described the exercise as being in compliance with democratic norms and characterized by the independent and credible wishes of majority of the delegates at the conference.
She said, out of a total of 25 views discussed in Gbarnga, 20 were voted for, adding that view 24, which states that Liberia should be legislated as a Christian State sparked confusion between Muslim and Christian delegates. The proposition was however overwhelmingly passed despite opposition from Muslims.
Cllr. Scott also said women delegates at the conference were dissatisfied because they did not see themselves in the issues that were being discussed, but in the amendment to the Legislature, women were captured.
On socio-economic rights, she said the conference delegates suggested that the usage of dual currency be abolished, and property owners should also benefit from natural resources on their property as well as respect and recognition for persons with disabilities should be enshrined in the Constitution, including education and job opportunities, amongst others.
Among others, Liberians recommended that tenure for the Presidency be reduced from six to four years; tenure for senators be reduced from nine to six years, while members of the House of Representatives should serve for four rather than six years, and that superintendents, chiefs and mayors across the country be elected to office rather than appointed by the President as is the status code.
In the course of a week-long National Constitutional Conference and Validation exercise held in Gbarnga City, Bong County, 416 delegates on April 2, 2015 voted in favor of a proposition seeking to declare Liberia a Christian State, against 18 votes that opposed the proposition.
The conference, which also validated views for a single currency regime and fifty percent elected or appointed positions exclusively reserved for women, became very tense as religious sentiments erupted from the Muslim Community in total expression of unhappiness against a Christian State.
The Muslim community of Liberia has announced a “Plan-B” to petition the Legislature not to approve the proposition.
\Meanwhile, Cllr. Scott has clarified that the opposition political party, Congress for Democratic Change or CDC did not in any way boycott the Gbarnga conference as is being insinuated.
According to her, CDC Vice Chairman for Mobilization, Mulbah Morlu, was in attendance and spoke on behalf of the party and strongly supported view 18, which seeks more women participation in Government.
“If the CDC had their own conference or said they did not participate in the conference, they were on record and video tape that Mulbah Morlu spoke for the party”, the CRC Chairperson noted.
By Ethel A. Tweh – Edited by Jonathan Brown