Monrovia – The Liberian Senate is debating whether or not to reduce the number of political parties in Liberia to four.
The debate is a result of a communication written by three senators including Senate Pro-Tempore Armah Jallah (Gbarpolu County, NPP), Senators Nyounblee Karnga Lawrence and Dallas Gueh of Grand Bassa, River-Cess counties respectively.
The communication received huge participation as some senators are supporting the idea of creating a four party state while others feel that to have legislation reducing the number of political parties will be in gross violation of the Liberian Constitution and the rights of citizens.
Senators including Prince Y. Johnson of vote rich Nimba County believes the request will create more problems rather than uniting Liberians.
Senator Johnson is the founding leader of the National Union for Development Progress, (NUDP) a party that ranked third in the 2011 Presidential election. His party produced majority of the current lawmakers from his native Nimba County- Johnson’s political stronghold.
He was booted out of the party by some senior party officials who felt sidelined by his action especially in negotiations that led to Johnson pledging his support to the ruling unity party in the second round of the 2011 Presidential and general elections.
Senator Johnson said: “This communication is more chaotic than finding the solution the crafters of this combination feel they are about to find. Let this communication be placed in file 13 (meaning out of sight) and never to surface on this floor.”
Less busy people
Like Senator Johnson, his colleague, Senator Oscar Cooper of Margibi County described the crafters of the communication as less busy people even though he took back his comments that appeared very harsh against his colleagues and later buttressed the stance by Senator Johnson calling for the communication to be placed in ‘file 13’.
Senator Cooper says he believes that because of the nature of Liberia’s post war democracy, to create or legislate a four party state law will be a violating of the constitutional rights to freedom of association of the Liberian people and to do that there is a need to change the provision of the constitution that gives Liberians the freedom to associate.
Despite the oppositions from few senators there are some senators who are in support of the creation of a four Party state something they believe could unite the Country more than creating division. According to the senators in support of the idea, political parties in Liberia are being created on religious or ethnic basis.
The crafters of the communication want the inclusion in the Constitution Review Committee’s (CRC) propositions, that all political parties that have consistently fallen below the fourth place in all elections since 2007 from alliance based on their similarities of philosophy and that the National Elections Commission denies the rights to form new political parties until Liberians are politically matured to handle issues of Multi-party democracy.
“Basically our parties are ethnic based, county based, or centered on political figures. Over the past years of our presence in the national Legislature, we have been troubled by what we see and the impending danger that hovers over this country if we continue down this path.
Hence, the idea was birthed out of the desire to foster national cohesiveness and reconciliation which we so desperately need,” the communication stated.
Currently, there are 22 registered parties and six proposed parties.
Article 77(a) of the 1986 Liberian constitution states; “since the essence of democracy is free competition of ideas expressed by political parties and political groups as well as individuals, parties may freely be established to advocate the political opinion of the people.
“Distinguished ladies and Gentlemen, we are of the conviction that we can achieve the desired objective of Article 77 without creating any form of social and political disintegration that could possibly lead us down the ugly road that we just came from. Multiparty democracy in the framework of two to three political parties is a healthy platform for our little population,” the crafters of the communication stated.
The communication after a heated debate was sent to the committee on Judiciary, and Autonomous Agencies for review to be brought back in two weeks.
Henry Karmo (0886522495) [email protected]