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Editorial- A Reflection on Article 52C and the National Referendum

With all things being equal, Liberia’s Presidential and Legislative Elections are expected to take place in October, 2011. The National Elections Commission, the officiating electoral body in Liberia, has already released the official time-table to include the ongoing voters’ education and registration in January, 2011.

A National Referendum on the amendment of certain provisions of the Liberian Constitution, including the residency clause as reflected in Article 52 of the Constitution may take place in August, 2011, just a few weeks to the actual elections.

Being cognizant of the nature of Liberian politicians and incumbencies, coupled with the world-wide economic situations and the fact that most international organizations, including the UN, we foresee hitches in the conduct of such referendum in August as planned by the National Elections Commission or NEC.

And when this happens, such exercise would either be extended with direct effect on the conduct of the national elections in October of next year, in terms of postponement or cancellation.

And should the national referendum fail to take place as scheduled, many of those opting for the Liberian Presidency would be caught with their “pants down.”

Such embarrassing situation may likely send a few of them  either to their early graves or place them in “wheel chairs” because they will then not be eligible to contest as Presidential candidates in consonance with Article 52c of the Constitution of Liberia, which bars them.

Again, Liberia being what it is, there may even be suggestions for “flexibility” in this article, as we‘ve seen in our political history before-and this could create an unfavorable political situation not only between those who do not meet the 10-year-residency clause and the few who are eligible, but the current administration and the electorates.

This is why George Manneh Weah of the CDC, Cllr. Charles Walker Brumskine of the Liberty Party, Senator Prince Y. Johnson of NUDP, Cllr. Winston A. Tubman of LINU and Prof. Dew Tuan-Wleh Mayson of the New DEAL Movement must collaborate efforts with President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf of the ruling Unity Party in ensuring that the entire electoral process, in the national referendum is successful.

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By that, we mean, these key political leaders and others must not see the process as the sole responsibility of Ellen and her administration, but also theirs and the nation they want to govern.

While we do agree that the Government of Liberia is at the head of this process, they must also help the administration to help us as a nation by using their various contacts within the international system to attract all of the needed funding so that the National Elections Commission can meet up with its obligations, including the national referendum, because when the “chips fall, ….”

And they too, shall be held very liable for whatever setbacks our electoral process may suffer, after all,  our political leaders should not only pretend to love and care for us as their people  by spending huge cash when they develop interest in political positions or when elections are around the corners, but also assist the process.

We also believe that those political leaders who think there is a “political  matrimony” between them and Article 52 of the Constitution, there is a need for their intervention too, so that our electoral process will not be seen only as a “government thing”, but  us all.

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