Members of the House of Representatives have endorsed seven (7) out of the proposed 25 Propositions submitted by President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf as “items” for the referendum.
The 25 Propositions were gathered by the Constitution Review Committee (CRC), headed by Cllr. Gloria M. Scott, and subsequently reported to the President after consultations with the 73 electoral districts of Liberia.
The lawmakers reached the decision last Thursday, November 17, during the fourth day sitting of the Second Extraordinary Session based on a report from the Joint Committee on Good Governance and Governance Reform, Judiciary and Elections and Inauguration. The Joint Committee is chaired by Nimba County District # 8 Representative Larry Younquoi.
The passage of the seven Propositions by the House of Representatives would be concurred by the Senate and further be confirmed in a Joint Resolution by the House of Representatives and the Senate, with the signatures of at least two-thirds of the membership from each House prior to being sent to President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf.
The passage of the propositions for the referendum follows over a year of debates on the amendment of the Constitution.
Last Thursday the House Plenary decisively agreed on Propositions 1 to 3, which say tenures for the President, Vice President and members of House of Representatives should be reduced from six (6) years to four (4) years; and the Senate’s should be reduced from nine (9) to six (6) years.
Propositions 6 and 7 reject Dual Citizenship and demand the restriction of citizenship to persons of Negro descent only.
The House Plenary has also passed the date for election, to be changed from the second week in October to the second week in March of the election year, to be tried in the referendum as well as the enhancement of women participation in governance and national affairs of Liberia.
It was discussed that the affirmative action clause be recognized as the seventh item for the referendum, which would take in Affirmative Action for Equal Participation and Representation.
It may be recalled that the House of Representatives endorsed the establishment of seven (7) Special Legislative Constituencies while the Senate agreed on 21 for the Affirmative Action for Equal Participation and Representation Bill. The disparity in the passage compels a conference committee comprised of members from each House.
Meanwhile, Proposition 24, which calls for Liberia to be declared a Christian Nation, has suffered another setback as it has been put on hold by members of the House of Representatives.
In March of 2013, a Christian organization under the banner “National Christian Council of Liberia” (NCCL) presented a petition to the Legislative body requesting that Liberia be recognized as a Christian state. It has been in committee room for years.
According to their petition, Liberia is losing its Christian heritage and as such, there is a desire for the country to return to its Christian status, though there is no proof that Liberia was originally declared a Christian state.
But members of the House of Representatives, perhaps, taking into consideration several implications among which may be security, have put the “Christian State” proposition on hold.
Lawmakers rejected putting to referendum the proposal that Superintendents, Commissioners, Paramount Chiefs and Chiefs be elected, but allowed only the election of City Mayor for referendum, taking into consideration the financial implication. The issue of curtailing the number of political parties in the country was recommended to be treated as a statute.
The lawmakers concluded that in line with Article 91 of the 1986 Constitution of Liberia, all propositions expected to be transformed into Legislative proposals for passage would only be allowed after being signed by two-thirds of both Houses of the Legislature.