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EDITORIAL: Cdc-led Government Has Not Earned The Right To Abolish By-Elections in Liberia

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THE HIGHLIGHT of a retreat involving the Executive and Legislative branches of government at the Farmington Hotel at the weekend was a plea from President George Manneh Weah, requesting the 54th Legislature to consider the approval of eight revised propositions for referendum to amend some provisions of the 1986 Constitution.

THE FACT of the matter is that Liberia remains vulnerable to a lot of political uncertainties. What the President is proposing is wrong because this administration has fallen short of exhibiting the strengths of an inclusive government and cannot be trusted to decide who should fill a seat in the legislature in the event of an unfortunate situation.

A KEY COMPONENT of the President’s plea is a proposition that any vacancy created by death, resignation, expulsions or otherwise of a senator or representative, should be filled by appointment by the “duly elected County Councils” within 90 days from the time the notice of vacancy is announced to the County Council by the presiding officer of the Senate or the House of Representatives.

HERE LIES our problem with the President’s proposal. The ruling Coalition for Democratic Change which has just lost a major election in Montserrado County Senatorial By-elections and facing a rerun in the District No. 15 Representative race is yet to show that it is a government of inclusion.

THE PARTY HAS not hidden the fact that only its partisans should be appointed to positions in government and those from other political parties are constantly being targeted for not belonging to the ruling party and should therefore not be employed in the government. 

LIBERIA’S POST-WAR DEMOCRACY is still fragile and these by-elections offer a chance for political parties to put up candidates against the ruling establishment, especially when those elected to serve continue to take voters for a ride by ignoring the reasons for which they were elected.

ALL THIS OFFER very little of confidence from many Liberians in the government and President’s ability to make appointments based on the most qualified and most experience individuals to help the government achieve its pro-poor agenda.

IF THE PRESIDENT’S sole objective with his proposal is to open avenue for more jobs for partisans of the ruling party then we see no reason why the national legislature should spend its time deliberating on such a partisan proposition.

WHILE WE SUPPORT the proposition by the President to suggesting reduction in the tenures of president and representatives from six years to five years, and the Senators from nine to seven years, the President must not only go a step further in pushing for a reduction from six to four years but also seek reduction of Senators from nine to six years.

UNER ARTICLE 45 OF THE 1986 CONSTITUTION, the Senate shall composed of Senators elected for a term of nine years by the registered voters in each of the counties, but a Senator elected in a by-election to fill a vacancy created by death, resignation, expulsion or otherwise, shall be so elected to serve only the remainder of the unexpired term of office. Each county shall elect two Senators and each Senator shall have one vote in the Senate. Senators shall be eligible for re-election.

THE DANGER for tweaking the constitution at this moment in time to abolish By-elections is enormous and raises a lot of questions. 

IS THE RULING PARTY and the president suddenly sensing that it no longer has the vote to win future elections and is now resorting to a last-ditch effort to have a presidential-appointed council decide who replaces a member of the Senate in the event of a death or resignation?

LIBERIA’S POST-WAR DEMOCRACY is still fragile and these by-elections offer a chance for political parties to put up candidates against the ruling establishment, especially when those elected to serve continue to take voters for a ride by ignoring the reasons for which they were elected.

WHAT THE PRESIDENT SHOULD instead be pushing for is putting a halt to sitting members of the lower house trying to contest senatorial positions.

IN A FEW MONTHS from now, twenty members of the House of Representatives will reportedly be vying for some 15 senatorial posts up for grabs.

THIS IS INSANE and should require the attention of the Presidency, more urgently than abolishing by-elections in its entirety.

LIBERIA’S BOURGEONING democracy is still fragile and yet so full of promise and potential. While we appreciate the President’s attempts to propose some amendments to the constitution, we prevail on the presidency to do so in the best interest of Liberia – and not in the interest of a party looking to find opportunities for jobs for its partisans. 

IS THE RULING PARTY and the president suddenly sensing that it no longer has the vote to win future elections and is now resorting to a last-ditch effort to have a presidential-appointed council decide who replaces a member of the Senate in the event of a death or resignation?

THE FACT of the matter is that Liberia remains vulnerable to a lot of political uncertainties. What the President is proposing is wrong because this administration has fallen short of exhibiting the strengths of an inclusive government and cannot be trusted to decide who should fill a seat in the legislature in the event of an unfortunate situation.

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