CSOs Want Number of Political Parties Reduced

Call on Senate to act on Constitution’s recommendation

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Four of the CSO representatives responding to inquiries from journalists at yesterday’s ceremony

Representatives of five civil society organizations (CSOs), among other issues yesterday, recommended the reduction of the number of political parties in the country to “at least four.”

The CSO spokespersons, including Eddie Jarwolo and John Kollie, made the recommendations at a press conference in Monrovia yesterday, citing that at present, the National Elections Commission (NEC) has a list of 24 political parties in a country with an estimated population of 4.5 million.

The five CSOs expressed their support for the results of the nationwide consultations on the Constitution Review Process that was held in the 73 districts, in 2014.  From that process emerged 25 propositions, one of which is that the number of political parties be reduced to “just four.”

The CSOs are therefore calling on the Senate to deliberate and reach a conclusion on the propositions recommended for amendment by the House of Representatives. This exercise, the CSO representatives said, will set the framework for a possible nationwide referendum in 2018.

Liberia embarked on the Constitution Review Process in 2014 with the completion of 73 consultations held at the national and local levels and the Diaspora (Ghana and USA). Over 10,000 Liberians from the 73 constituencies in all the 15 counties and the Diaspora participated in the public consultations, with 35 percent of those who participated in the process being women.

On August 13, 2015, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf submitted the final Constitution Review recommendations to the Legislature through the Senate President Pro-Tempore, Armah Z. Jallah, to be studied for possible legislative action that could constitute propositions that would be submitted to registered voters for amendment through a national referendum.

“The Legislative Committee on Governance, Judiciary and Elections of the Lower House discussed the relevance of the 25 recommendations that were submitted for consideration.  They held public hearings and finally agreed on eight recommendations that were submitted to the Senate in 2016 for concurrence,” the CSOs said.

“Since that time, the Senate is yet to introduce or hold deliberations on the propositions.”

The eight recommendations include: reduction in the tenures of elected officials including the president (4 years), representatives (4 years) and senators (6 years); opening or restricting citizenship to people of non-negro descent; acceptance or rejection of dual citizenship in Liberia; enhancement of women’s participation in national affairs; that traditional Liberians own their own land and be parties to negotiations with investors or concessionaires on said land; that the date for election be changed from the second week in October to the second week in March; that local leaders including superintendents and commissioners be elected; and that the number of political parties be reduced to just four.

In furtherance of the issues raised, the five CSOs, including NAYMOTE, Pentecostal Mission Unlimited (PMU), Liberia Democracy Media Initiative (LDMI), IREDD, and SAIL, also advanced that the Senate through a deliberative process makes its views heard on the eight recommendations submitted to it by the House of Representatives; that the Committee on Internal Affairs, Good Governance and Reconciliation at the Senate take leadership in introducing the recommendations on the floor for deliberations; that a joint working session between the Senate and House of Representatives be held to fully agree and take action on the eight recommendations approved by the House of Representatives by passing a “Bill of Referendum.”

“The amendment of the Constitution through a referendum will contribute meaningfully in addressing some of the governance challenges including dual citizenship, the reduction of tenure of elected public officials, decentralization, and the elections of local leaders,” Mr. Jarwolo said on behalf of the concerned members of the CSOs.

The concerned civil society institutions are meanwhile organizing a series of events to create awareness on the eight propositions recommended by the Lower House to the Senate, and work with the responsible committees in the Senate to get the bill introduced, discussed and approved for referendum before the campaign process starts for the October elections.

The CSO groups are working with support from the United Nations Development Program through funding from USAID.

In a related development, a serious debate on the reduction of the 24 political parties is ongoing at the legislature with the majority of the lawmakers calling for the reduction of the growing number of parties to at least four before the holding of the October elections.

In addition to the 22 political parties that are registered with the NEC, the Commission has again certificated an additional two, bringing the total number of parties to 24.

The debate, which started yesterday with three members of the Senate, including Senate Pro-Temp Armah Jallah of Gbarpolu, Dallas Gueh of River Cess and Nyonblee Karngar-Lawrence of Grand Bassa, called on members to take appropriate measures to curtail the proliferation of political parties in the country.

The three lawmakers noted that while they are in support of multiparty democracy, they nonetheless stressed that the multiplicity of political parties, especially the ones with similar platforms, should lead to the formation of mergers to maintain a healthy Liberian democracy.

“This matter, in our opinion, can be laid to rest when included among the Constitution Review Commission (CRC) propositions in the pending national referendum for the Liberian people to decide,” the Senators noted in a joint communication addressed to the Senate plenary.

They said this will allow Liberians to engage in a competitive political process with fewer political parties modeled after great nations such as the United States of America, Nigeria, Ghana and India.

The senators also recommended the inclusion in the CRC propositions that political parties falling consistently below fourth position in all elections since 2007 form alliances based on the similarities of their ideologies.

The senators want the NEC to prevent the formation of new political parties until Liberians are politically mature to handle issues of multiparty democracy.

Authors

15 COMMENTS

  1. Perhaps the reporter isn’t clearly conveying the message from the CSOs. Do they (CSOs) want “at least” four political parties or “maximum” four political parties? The language, as presented by the reporter, is not clear. Please revise the story

  2. Nigeria that has a population of over two hundred fifty million people has 24 political parties, why should Liberia that has four point five millions population which is just the population of a neighborhood in Nigeria have twenty four political parties? That is not bein rational and they all old wine trying to question in new bottle

  3. It’s not population vs parties or the other way around but simply, the requirements to form a party. We have to give the citizens more leverages when it comes to referendum. If they Lawmakers will not approved term reduction then let’s get 50k or 100k signatures of REGISTERED VOTERS to sign petition to has it place into referendum.

  4. It’s not population vs parties or the other way around but simply, the requirements to form a party. We have to give the citizens more leverages when it comes to referendum. If they Lawmakers will not approved term reduction then let’s get 50k or 100k signatures of REGISTERED VOTERS to sign petition to has it place into referendum.

  5. To reduce smoking, increase the cost of cigarette! To reduce the number of political parties, increase the cost of registering a political party. At one million dollars, it will grant a big boost to our budget. Imagine that!!

  6. In fact, being a developmentally-stunted nation with such a small population, Liberia needs no more than three political parties, categorized as follows: “free enterprise”, “socialist”, and “centrist”. All politicians and electors in the country who cannot find a happy home in one of these camps, could be classed as “independents”. Now, to get the ball rolling, the National Elections Commission should be tasked with dissolving the existing political parties and letting them reorganize themselves under any one of the three categories they may choose. (But of course it may be too late now to achieve anything like this during the current election cycle. Liberia remains the “Sick Man of Africa.”)

  7. You people write as if Liberia is not a country. Liberia has Laws if you forgot, in fact the constitution of 1986 still stand and nowhere in there does it limit the number of political parties. If Liberians want to change the constitution to limit the number of political parties, let do it but don’t suggest thing like having the NEC dissolved political parties, that’s not how we do things in LIB

    Liberia have a long way to go.

  8. We don’t want to restrict pluralistic political participation by charging a million US dollars for party registration. On the other hand, it is dangerous to emulate Somalia which had sixty – two parties at one point. It is a dilemma, obviously.

    Notwithstanding, allowing the mushrooming of political parties, some of whose main purpose is to be mini employment agencies for plum jobs has to stop at some point. No wonder all our previous advice about coalitions were for naught, because the excess parties are coalition partners – in – waiting.

    Looking ahead, though, Liberia won’t be able to afford the traumatic polarization, and probihitive costs of partisan politics, which regardless of rationalizations, is identity politics, after all.

    The US is a very rich empire, and it can indulge in caustic politics that morph into toxity for the first term of the victorious president. Is it any wonder, then, that governance rapidly ages even young presidents such a Clinton, Bush, and Obama, and, more importantly, it takes so long to find consensus in order to get anything significant done?

    For reconciliation, long – term stabilty, and sustainable peace, Liberians should be thinking about an alternative to the current transactional party politics. For instance, Switzerland has a highly developed democratic system without the rancor of the tug of war of partisanship. Definitely, it is about time to part ways with Uncle Sam on the issue of party politics.

  9. The problem is not about numerous political parties. Identify the problem and get rid of it! Let the people remain at liberty to erect as many political parties as they can! It is their God-given. and Constitutional right! Now:

    What is the harm done when there are even a hundred political parties?

    Is it the constitutionality of numerous political parties which has resulted into the rigging or stealing of elections, or the bad governance in the country? Is it “allowing the mushrooming of political parties” which has resulted into presidential abuse of powers, massive corruption, and or the brutal wars which destroyed the country and killed hundred of thousands?

    Or is it the numerous political parties which brought NOCAL to a total collapse, our educational system being a deplorable mess, very bad healthcare system, or a LACC which can now no be trusted??? Or is it the numerous political parties which have set Executive Order 83 to usurp the consenting powers of the Senate, or Charles Brumskine, Mills Jones, and Alexander Cummings defying the Constitution, not to talk about Jerome Korkoyah the NEC Chairman telling the Constitution to “go to hell”?

    Instead of:

    (1) dealing with the main problems as Liberty Party and other political actors been bent on violating the Constitution viz the Code Of Conduct, or at most, the nation:

    (2) dropping this arcade presidential system or presidential supremacy in which this idea of the President being answerable to the people IS MERE FANTASY which is THE SOURCE of the abuse of power, ramppant corruption, etc. etc, and adopting the modern or post-modern legislative supremacy in which the head of Government is directly answerable to the people through the people´s respresentatives, we are:

    (3) here campaigning ELITISM via furtvely trying to FORCE THE PEOPLE TO JOIN SPECIFIC PARTIES IN VIOLATION OF THE PEOPLE´S FUNDAMENTAL DEMOCRATIC RIGHTS AND HUMAN RIGHTS!

    While it is true, presidential supremacy works well for the USA, it has become the source of our main problems. And it is such problems which has prompted countries as Great Britan, Israel, Germany, and several modern democracies to abolish presidential supremacy and adopt legislative supremacy in which no one enjoys monarchical immunity incognito presidential immunity – THE ENGINE AND SOURCE OF MISRULE, CRONIYISM, WIDESPREAD CORRUPTION, ABUSE OF POWER, THE STEALING OF ELECTIONS, AND BRUTAL WARS IN THE COUNTRY.

  10. Mr. Dortu Siboe – Doe,.
    .
    You have some great points here, yet having “one hundred political parties” wouldn’t help much in holding our imperial presidency accountable, or exercising more effective oversight control on the Executive Branch.

    Instead, the multiplicity of political parties in Somalia made finding any comprise, or getting consensus impossible, hence a failure in any semblance of governance. No wonder, then, that country has been mired in sectarian conflicts since the 1980’s. Why not when each tribe, and clan had its own political party?

  11. Mr. S.Gbahyahforh Moses,

    Somalia is at war; Liberia is not at war. The multiplicity of political parties prevents and discourages tribalism or clanism; hence unifies our people – an ideal and spirit called for by the preamble of our Constitution!

  12. Besides, in a minute voting electorate as Liberia, forcing people to join political parties they would have not joined had they been free to choose a party from several political parties, compels them to seek political association based on tribal or clanish lines!

  13. Mr. Peter Kortuwah,

    What you and others against the multiplicity of political parties should do to make your case is ARTICULATE THE HARMS DONE By the “so many parties”, and not simply stating:

    (1) “the National Elections Commission should be tasked with dissolving the existing political parties and letting them reorganize themselves under any one of the three categories they may choose. When:

    (2) neither the principles of constitutionalism, nor the preamble of the Constitution, or even Article 77 or ANY PART of the Constitution stipulates or gurantees such “remedies”. But rather that:

    (3) Since the essence of democracy is free competition of ideas expressed by political
    parties and political groups as well as by individuals, parties may freely be
    established to advocate the political opinions of the people. Laws, regulations,
    decrees or measures which might have the effect of creating a one-party state shall
    be declared unconstitutional. (ARTICLE 77 A OF THE LIBERIAN CONSTITUTION)

    Hereunder may mean “something”:

    Article 79
    No association, by whatever name called, shall function as a political party, nor shall any
    citizen be an independent candidate for election to public office, unless:
    a. the association or independent candidate and his organization meet the minimum
    registration requirements laid down by the Elections Commission and are registered
    with it. Registration requirements shall include filing with the Elections Commission
    a copy of the constitution of the association and guidelines of the independent
    candidate and his organization, a detailed statement of the names and addresses of
    the association and its officers or of the independent candidate and the officers of his
    organization, and fulfillment of the provision of sub-sections (b), (c), (d) and (e)
    hereof. Registration by the Elections Commission of any association or independent
    candidate and his organization shall vest in the entity or candidate and his
    organization so registered legal personality, with the capacity to own property, real,
    personal or mixed, to sue and be sued and to hold accounts. A denial of registration
    or failure by the Elections Commission to register any applicant may be challenged
    by the applicant in the Supreme Court.

  14. And probably finally, Mr. S. Gbahyahforh Moses,

    IF OTHERS may agree that: having “one hundred political parties” “wouldn’t help much in holding our imperial presidency accountable, or exercising more effective oversight control on the Executive Branch”, the fact stands tall that “allowing the mushrooming of political parties” HAS NEVER EVER HURT THE NATION OR PROMPTED BAD GOVERNANCE OR “IMPERIAL PRESIDENCY”.

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