Drama unfolded yesterday, the second day of the National Constitution Conference, when delegates were compelled to protest, after they were informed that 16 of the 25 recommendations that were expected to be discussed had been removed by the conference organizer, the Constitution Review Committee (CRC).
The 25 recommendations were collected during a nationwide consultation held within the 15 counties of Liberia, regarding the amendment of some provisions within the 1986 Constitution, including the reduction of the terms of office of the president and the National Legislature.
Surprisingly, when the delegates were seated and expecting to commence discussions on their proposals, the chairperson of the CRC, Cllr. Gloria Musu Scott confidently walked to the podium and informed the assembly that the CRC had decided to remove nine of their views expressed during the nationwide consultations.
Her statement was loudly rejected by the people, throwing the conference hall into disorder. Cllr. Scott did not explain which one of the recommendations the CRC had removed.
However, a woman leader, Madam Ruth Caesar, who took the stage after Cllr. Scott left, named some of the omitted recommendations as a clause for children’s rights, clear mandate to address the issue of gender equality in marriage; property rights and the 50 percent women’s participation, among others.
Participants were heard chanting, “Put them back or else we will not proceed with the conference. Put them back. It is we the participants that will tell you to remove anything before you can do it and not the CRC.”
Immediately after listening to the people, Cllr. Scott and her committee were forced to quickly convene a meeting, after which she announced to delegates that the CRC had put back the nine recommendations for discussion.
The day before Cllr. Scott informed the delegates about her Committee’s decision to drop some of the people’s recommendations, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, who spoke at the opening of the conference, had said, “The Liberian people through a series of national consultations made it clear their desire for significant changes in the constitution. And their voice must be heard and respected by all stake holders.”