House Committee on Governance Referendum Cancellation Raises Eyebrows
Monrovia – The chairperson of the House Committee on Governance has announced that no referendum will be held on the 25 propositions advanced during the Gbarnga Conference of the Constitution Review Committee (CRC).
Report by Edwin G. Genoway, Jr – [email protected]
He said the decision is a result of the costliness of the exercise, amounting to US$20 million.
Rep. Larry Younquoi made the disclosure recently at the launch of the Elections Coordinating Committee’s (ECC) three years strategic plan, an event that was attended by an array of state and non-state actors at the YMCA in Monrovia.
At the CRC conference in Gbarnga, Bong County, delegates voted for 25 propositions, among which the controversial #24 is making Liberia a Christian nation. Delegates came from 73 electoral districts across the country.
The propositions include the reduction of the tenure of the President and members of the House of Representatives from six to four years and Senators from nine to six years; land owners on whose lands minerals and other resources are found are to share the benefits accrued with the government, and that they should be part of the negotiations between government and concessionaires.
Others are the dual citizenship issue for diaspora based Liberians and giving non-negro Liberian citizenship.
They also voted against the dual currency regime, while rejecting the use of mutilated Liberian legal tender.
They called for the election of superintendents, commissioners, mayors and chiefs and for respect and recognition for persons with disabilities to be enshrined in the Constitution.
Many fear that if the referendum is not held, public officials who would be affected by the process will continue to enjoy power at the expense of the electorates.
The Liberia Reform Movement (LRM) is a local non-governmental organization demanding that the process go on due to the huge funds spent on gathering views of Liberians from around the country.
The LRM has also written the Legislature, calling on the august body to mandate the National Elections Commission (NEC) to conduct the referendum.
Alphonso B. Henries, executive director of LRM, said government used taxpayers’ money to institute and facilitate the work of the Constitution Review Committee (CRC).
“The Commission did a master piece referred to as a remarkable job for the Liberian People as it relates to the 25 propositions. Today, government announcing a cancellation of the referendum to the Liberian People is regrettable,” he told FPA.
Henries pointed out that the country spent quality time, efforts and resources to reach a decision on having a referendum before elections are held, adding that it was the very government who saw the need for some amendments in the Constitution and decided to set up the CRC.
“We the Liberian people give you just two weeks to speak in line with the Constitution on this matter, or else we will come over at the Capitol to petition you in line with the Constitution.
If there is nothing to live for, there must be something to die for. We can assure you that we shall remain resolute to our national heritage and there’s absolutely nothing that can divert our focus,” he noted.
He noted that the LRM was told that the Legislature hasn’t approved that aspect of the referendum; therefore the Committee is not authorized to include it in its activities schedule.