The Senate plenary on Tuesday unanimously agreed that all Senators attend the Constitution Review Commission (CRC) Conference scheduled to take place in Gbarnga, Bong County from March 29 to April 2.
The Senate reached the decision after the Chairperson of the CRC, Madam Gloria Musu-Scott had presented a summary of the work of the Commission since it started in 2012.
Madam Scott said over 500 people have been invited to attend the conference and informed lawmakers that several other equally important issues which were not highlighted in her briefing will be placed on the table for deliberation.
The CRC boss started her briefing Tuesday by acknowledging contributions from donors and partners among them USAID, UNDP and the Liberian government, among others.
According to Chairperson Scott, the process started in earnest in September, 2012 with the setting up of the administrative structure into various sub-committees.
In April, 2013, said Madam Scott, the Commission decided to go public, starting with the outreach process, which she said was intended to tell Liberians about the Constitution. This was followed by the civil education aspect which commenced in February, 2014 and culminated in nation-wide public consultations.
She said the Commission gave out forms during visitations to the 73 electoral districts of the country, and in return received a total of 56,729 suggestions. Of that number, she said 34% of the responses came from women.
On the question of what Liberians stated on those forms as their needs, Madam Scott said the Commission observed that there are things Liberians hold dear, things they believe the country can do for them; and likewise things they think they can do for their country.
Reduce political parties
She said the people are now concerned about social economic values accepting the fact that they have now received political rights, even to the point that they have asked under the section for elections that political parties be reduced to not more than four or not less than two.
Elections: Independent board of commissioners and an elections court
Furthermore, she told the lawmakers that Liberians are suggesting that an independent and impartial board of commissioners be set up to guide the electoral process, that the board of commissioners be elected; and that the hearing of contested matters from elections should not be initially heard by the board of commissioners, but by an elections court.
Access to justice: return of “sassay wood”
In terms of access to justice, Madam Scott said the Liberian people have stated they do not have enough access to the Supreme Court, and to express that, they are asking for the return of “sassay wood,” which is ‘trial by ordeal.’
In the area of social economic rights, she said citizens observed that even though the country is wealthy, the population remains poor. They are therefore suggesting that in order to benefit from the wealth of the country, the customary or traditional people should own the land of their ancestry as a matter of Constitution.
On the issue of currency of the country, she said citizens cried that the dual currency was keeping them poor, and suggested that all transactions in Liberia including the payment of salaries should be done in Liberian dollars. Foreign currencies, they said, should be in the banks for business transactions.
With regard to citizenship, she said the people of Liberia have said that the provisions for citizenship should remain as it is, which is arguably said to be the most racial in the world.
Local government officials should be elected
They also suggested that their elected leaders should be accountable to them, especially those in the local government. Superintendents, district commissioners and city mayors should be elected and they as the electorate should have the right to remove them. They however, suggested that paramount chiefs should be elected according to the traditional protocol.