Liberia: Sen. Prince Y. Johnson Says Pres. Weah Would Rule the Third Term after Passage of December 8 Referendum
MONROVIA – Nimba County Senator who is also a staunch supporter of the George Weah regime says Pres. Weah would be able run for a third term after the December 8 referendum which also has a proposition to amend the presidential tenure.
He made the statement on Sunday while delivering a sermon at his Faith Chapel Ministries church.
“I tell you the truth, President Weah will be there twelve years – and when the referendum passes – the first six years would be zero years for us – that will make it two more terms, that’s a third term,” he said.
According to the controversial Senator, Pres. Weah would win a second term in the current six-year tenure to complete 12 years of rule but would be granted another opportunity to contest presidential elections after the referendum proposition calling for the reduction of the tenure is voted for in the December 8 elections and referendum. By voting ‘YES’ to said proposition would annul the current.
Under the current Constitution, Article 50 reads, “The Executive Power of the Republic shall be vested in the President who shall be Head of State, Head of Government and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces of Liberia. The President shall be elected by universal adult suffrage of registered voters in the Republic and shall hold office for a term of six years commencing at noon on the third working Monday in January of the year immediately following the elections. No person shall serve as President for more than two terms.
If amended, the law will now read: “The Executive Power of the Republic shall be vested in the President who shall be Head of State, Head of Government and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces of Liberia. The President shall be elected by universal adult suffrage of registered voters in the Republic and shall hold office for a term of five (5) years commencing at noon on the third working Monday in January of the year immediately following the elections. No person shall serve as President for more than two terms”.
There have been several calls for the postponement of the December 8 Referendum with many calling for appropriate civic education on the propositions.
Recently, Representatives Rustonlyn Suacoco Dennis and Francis Saidy Dopoh, along with a consortium of women called on the House of Representatives to intervene in halting the National Elections Commission (NEC) to postpone the referendum scheduled for December 8, 2020.
Reps. Dennis (District #4, Montserrado County) and Dopoh (District #3, River Gee County), in their communication said the referendum, if held, will be a landmark event and must “therefore go along with voter and civic education, mass media coverage, facilitating dialogue, debate and discussion between masses and policymakers and elected officials.”
According to them, effective information dissemination is one of the major pillars of democratic elections, and must effectively be implemented before the referendum, especially where the citizens’ faith in the system needs to be reaffirmed over the daunting levels of illiteracy and poverty.
The lawmakers, writing further, stated that their move is also in line with Article 6 of the Liberian Constitution which calls for equal access to education opportunities and facilities for all citizens to the extent of available resources.
The lawmakers are also being joined by several civil society groups, under the banner ‘The Liberian Women Can Lead Consortium.
The group, in a statement delivered to the Legislature and read in plenary on Friday, pleaded for the referendum to be postponed to the last Tuesday in March 2021.
According to the pro-women group, it is making the request because most of the propositions including dual citizenship are gender-sensitive, and as women should be given ample time to be well educated to make informed decision during the referendum.
Conducting the referendum on December 8, the group noted, will be a rich soil for denying the Liberian people of the right to information and will subtly divest the Liberians of the most sacred constitutional power of the land.
The group called for the increased and sustained public awareness on the referendum through the information services and increased funding to the National Elections Commission.
Also, an advocacy group, the Grassroots Alternative Movement (GAM) in August petitioned the 54th Legislature of Liberia to postpone the upcoming December 8, 2020 Referendum.
In a communication to the Legislature through House Speaker Bhofal Chambers and President Pro Tempore Albert Chie, GAM said if the Senatorial election and the referendum are held together, the senatorial elections will take away the meaning and enthusiasm of the referendum as the Senatorial Election is the single highest subject of national discussion at the moment.
“The Referendum will definitely become a side issue with very less interest. In that case, one does not have to be a Rocket Scientist to know that there will be a very low turnout for the referendum as we saw in the last Referendum that was held in 2011,” GAM said in the statement.
GAM further requests that if the referendum is postponed, the Legislature should set up a new Constitution Committee to revise the current Constitution to meet the aspiration of the Liberian people.