“Your Legal Ground For The Holding Of Referendum Is Shaking” – Liberia Council Churches President Tells Minister
MONROVIA – At long last, The Liberia Council of Churches (LCC), through its President Bishop Kortu K. Brown, has reacted to recent denigrating comments made by the Minister of State for Presidential Affairs against the Council over the conduct of the National Referendum in the country.
The national referendum is expected to be jointly conducted with the senatorial election tomorrow, Tuesday December 8.
The four propositions of the referendum include: the reductions of the term of the President from six to five years; Senator from nine to seven years, Representative from six to five years, and dual citizenship.
These Propositions for amendment seek to affect Articles 45, 46, 47, 48 and 50 of the 1986 Constitution of Liberia.
Rallying a “Yes to all” vote on the referendum from citizens in Monrovia recently, Minister McGill disparaged the stance taken by the LCC to call for the cancellation of the referendum, claiming that the referendum is more “legal than spiritual”.
He described those opposing the process as “greedy, selfish, and wicked”.
But speaking at a news conference held at the LCC headquarters in Sinkor, Monrovia on Monday, December 6, Bishop Brown expressed dismay over wanton utterances being made by some public officials in Liberia.
He noted that these utterances have not been objective or proffered to achieve anything in the society.
He disclosed that Minister McGill’s legal understanding of the LCC’s stance and position on the national referendum is “shaking” .
Bishop Brown added that though citizens, including religious leaders and public officials may not agree on key national issues, consensus, clarity and the sake of togetherness should enable them reason together for the betterment of Liberia and its citizens.
“Please let the Minister of State knows that his legal grounds are shaking. What I read the other day is that, even the lawyers from the Bar Association said, they do not understand the referendum. It’s not just a spiritual issue. The legal ground which the Minister of State says the referendum is being pursued is shaking”.
“Sometimes when I listen to people in authority speak, I wonder what the option is; what is the objective or what are you trying to achieve because a post-war country requires a pulling together. Reconciliation is not just what you say. It’s what you do. You can say you want reconcile, but what you do is contrary. There is a need to pull this country together”.
Vote “no to all”
Speaking further, Bishop Brown stated that though government has failed to listen to multiple calls from the LCC and other renowned organizations in the country for the halt of the referendum, eligible voters should go to the polls on Tuesday and vote “no” to all propositions.
“We are urging Liberians to say no the referendum. Even though we are Pastors, church leaders are Liberians also and we have a position. And this is our position. The church is a problem solver one and that’s why people should listen to the church or the spiritual leaders”.
He added that citizens or others who have the perception that religious leaders should only concentrate on the preaching of the gospel and winning souls for God are in “gross error”.
He indicated that those who have such a notion are the similar group of Liberians who turn out to the religious leaders to offer prayers.
“We don’t believe that enough civic education was done and we should not be in a hurry on something like this (referendum). It should be done properly because the church is saying that it has not been done properly. You need information for people to vote”.
Bishop Brown described as “fooling one another” the entire process leading to the proffering of the referendum.
According to him, it is not convincing enough to attempt to reduce the tenure of the presidency when vast majority of citizens in the country do not understand the entire referendum.
“The Council of Churches does not support the holding of the referendum on December 8, 2020. It should be two, three of 2023 when sufficient education has been given to citizens across the country. We have to be fair and truthful to our country. Why do we want to fool one another? We should not fool one another on something that affects our country”.
Bishop Brown, however, condemned the recent violence in Grand Cape Mount County which led to the burning of two vehicles which were in the convoy of the candidate of the Collaborating Political Parties (CPP) Mr. Simeon Taylor, and the house of Representative Bob Sheriff.
The incident reportedly occurred on Saturday, December 5, when Mr. Taylor’s campaign was allegedly invaded by some supporters of the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC).
Mr. Victor Watson is the CDC candidate in the county. He is also the incumbent Senator.
But Bishop Brown pointed out that to deter the growing wave of violence in Liberia, both perpetrators and instigators of acts of violence must be brought to justice.
At the same time, Bishop Brown has disclosed that the LCC is disappointed over the slowness of the Liberia National Police and the Ministry of Justice to probe and forward for prosecution individuals who perpetrate and instigate violence in the Liberian society.
He made specific reference to the delay in the release of investigative reports on violent acts which occurred in various districts in Montserrado
“For example, what happened in Cape Mount over the week end; we expect the government to come up with a speedy investigation even though the police sometimes complain that they invite people and they do not show up for investigation”.