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Cummings flags danger, critiques repeated Census postponement

Opposition Alternative National Congress (ANC) political leader Mr. Alexander B. Cummings has termed as ridiculous and dangerous to Liberia’s republican form of government, the repeated postponement of the conduct of census here.

In a statement dated 17 June 2022, Mr. Cummings argued that previous postponements were due to several reasons from COVID to lack of funding by this administration.

“This is ridiculous. If these postponements did not represent a danger to our republican form of government and the development of our nation, it would be laughable,” he said

He lamented that the Fifth National Census has again been postponed from its 19 June date to next year’s March.

According to him, repeatedly, under President George Weah, the conduct of the National Housing and Population Census continues to be postponed with the last postponement being from March to June 19.

“The latest postponement from June 19 to next year March is being blamed on the rainy season,” he noted.

Cummings argued that the conduct of the National Housing and Population Census is not a trivial requirement that can be set aside without consequences for both the constitutional legitimacy of the elections and the fullness of constitutional authority to govern.

He indicated that the Liberian Constitution mandates the conduct of a census every 10 years. Since 2018, he said, the Weah government should have conducted a census.

“Unfortunately, they have not and it appears, have no intentions to do so,” said Mr. Cummings.

Among other important reasons, including economic planning, Mr. Cummings said the result of the census determines the size and demarcation of constituencies in the country, from which representation in the House of Representatives of the Legislature, is important.

He stressed that the result of the census is also important because it is used to validate the number of registered voters at a precinct for elections.

Mr. Cummings reminded the government that the result of the census is vital to also in determining, for example, how and where to build more schools, hospitals, markets, farm-to-market roads, and make other needed services like water, electricity,

telephone connectivity and sewer systems increasingly available to the people.

“Our last census in 2008 put our population at 3.5 million. Today, this administration can not accurately tell a prospective investor or donor, the total population of our country or a specific county but continues to rely on a projected estimate of five (5) million,” he added.

Without conducting the long-overdue census, he said Liberia risks the members of the House of Representatives continuing to represent land areas and not the people, as mandated by the Constitution.

This risk, he said, will extend to calling into question the constitutionality of the elections in 2023, as well as the constitutionality of the composition of the House of Representatives after the elections.

He warned that this threatens the constitutionality of the entire government, thus urging that such dangerous scenario which will have consequences for Liberia’s peace, security and democracy be avoided.

“The conduct of our National Census is essential to knowing the economic, social and political status of our country for development purposes. Without such crucial data, we are left at the mercy of knee-jerk presidential projects that are politically motivated. This is wrong and unacceptable.”

Cummings said he will consult with lawyers on the possible legal recourse available to compel the conduct of the National Housing and Population Census, as required by the Liberian Constitution, in a timely manner.

At the same time, he called on local civil society groups, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the African Union, the United Nations, the European Union, and the Government of the United States to engage with the Weah-led Government on the timely conduct of the census.

“We also request their technical and other support, where required, to achieve this important national undertaking for our country,” he concluded.

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