-McGill tells citizens
Liberia’s Minister of State for Presidential Affairs Nathaniel Fallo McGill has rallied citizens across the country to go to the poll on December 8, 2020 and vote yes to all eight propositions, as spelt out in a recent prohibition by the Supreme Court of Liberia.
The High Court had mandated the National Elections Commission to print ballots for each of the propositions in the constitutional referendum rather than clustering some, as was earlier designed by the Commission.
Amid serious criticisms from the public, including national institutions such as the Liberia Council of Churches and the Liberia National Bar Association calling for deferment of the process due to inadequate time, the authorities here are in a last rush to provide civic and voter’s education on the referendum in readiness for next Tuesday’s poll.
Appearing on State Radio ELBC Monrovia via a live simulcast on Monday, November 30, Minister McGill said this is the only opportunity Liberians have under the current administration to make crucial changes in the Constitution and maintained the referendum will be held as planned.
He rallied chiefs, commissioners, superintendents and community chairpersons to gather their people and educate them on the process.
Addressing a news conference earlier on 23 November in Monrovia, McGill accused the opposition of misrepresenting the court’s decision, saying the court did not stop the referendum.
“As you know, as soon as the Supreme Court came up with its ruling, people [were] celebrating; they say the referendum was cancelled. The referendum is not cancelled,” he said.
He indicated that the National Elections Commission (NEC) had announced just the previous day to the press conference that it is in the process of printing the ballot papers for the referendum in line with the Supreme Court’s mandate.
McGill’s comments were backed at the press conference by Liberia’s Solicitor General Cllr. Saymah Syrenius Cephus, who also noted that “the referendum is on course,” adding that there will be separate and distinct ballot paper for each of the article of amendment.
McGill argued that the recommendations in the referendum including reduction of the tenures of the president and representatives from six to five years; nine to seven years for senators; approval for dual citizenship, among others, did not come from President George Manneh Weah, but Liberians themselves.
“The only way you will not support the referendum except you don’t love this country; except you are a greedy politician who wants to stay long in power, you don’t want the people to decide.”
The Supreme Court on Wednesday, 18 November prohibited the NEC from printing ballots for the referendum, contrary to a joint resolution of the Legislature and Article 92 of the Constitution, ruling that the NEC proceeded by the wrong rule, therefore, prohibition will lie. By Jonathan Browne