Elders in Nimba, Bong, Lofa, and Margibi Counties are calling on government to see reason to conduct elections for chiefs in the 15 counties of Liberia. The elders’ representative Mr. Samuel Gbaideh told this paper in Monrovia on Thursday, 3 August that the decision to appeal to government is due to the alleged overstaying of some chiefs in positions in Nimba, Bong, Lofa and Margibi Counties.
Mr. Gbaideh notes that the essence of choosing a leader through elections process is to have a democratic leadership heading the chiefs here that is free from violence and other things. He claims that the fact that government is conducting these national elections without including elections for chiefs, there is an alleged violation of the Constitution.
Citing Article 56 (b) of the Liberian Constitution, Elder Gbaideh contends that there shall be elections of paramount, clan and town chiefs by the registered voters in their respective localities, to serve for a term of six years.
The law says the elected local officials may be reelected and may be removed only by the president for proved misconduct, adding that the Legislature shall enact laws to provide for their qualifications as may be required.
But Elder Gbaideh who hails from Nimba, says these things are not happening, and government only goes about holding elections for president, representatives and senators.
He recalls that in the past there were elections held for local officials, noting that it has since stopped.
He says the chiefs cannot do anything, but to only appeal to government to take into consideration the issue of conducting elections for local officials because so as to stop those in offices from overstaying in such positions.
Elder Gbaideh accuses chiefs that overstay in positions of allegedly misusing their positions and infringing on the rights of ordinary citizens in various counties by going to the extent of threatening to take away their jobs, or commanding them whenever they wish.“We cannot have people to be in position for life time, it is a complete violation of the Constitution. Some of those chiefs were in power before the election of Madam Sirleaf, and this is why we [are] calling on national government to conduct election. They must leave power so others can continue,” Chief Gbaideh insists.
He concludes that if a leader overstays in power with something substantial, no citizen will want such leader to be changed. Instead, he notes that where a leader stays in position for about forty years and there can be no sign of development, it is disheartening and must not be condoned by national government.
By Lewis S. Teh–Edited by Winston W. Parley