Former Senator of Grand Kru County and former Internal Affairs Minister Blamoh Nelson said yesterday that Article 54 (d) of the 1986 Liberian Constitution has made President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf an “Imperial President” despite her statement during her 2006 inauguration about the end of imperial rule.
Sen. Nelson said the President appoints over 3,450 senior public officials, excluding the 103 Legislators, and that has inarguably made her “very imperial.”
He argued that the “appointing power” she enjoys has made the President to practice “imperialism – which is dominance and control “– with harsh disadvantages and consequences, and therefore he recommends an election for county Superintendents, other officials and officials of other political sub-divisions, including chiefs.
He made the remarks yesterdayat the Capitol Building during a one-day Public Hearing on the 25 Propositions of the Constitutional Review Committee (CRC), which are under scrutiny by the House’s Joint Committee on Good Governance & Government Reform; Election and Inauguration and the Judiciary.
The former lawmaker during the 52nd Legislature said there would be huge political, economic, social and cultural impact if the country is decentralized by the election of county officials, instead of by appointment in accordance with Article 54.
Article 54 of the Constitution states: “The President shall nominate and, with the consent of the Senate, appoint and commission —(a) cabinet ministers, deputy and assistant cabinet ministers; (b) ambassadors, ministers, consuls; and (c) the Chief Justice and Associate Justice of the Supreme Court and judges of subordinate courts; (d) superintendents, other county officials and officials of other political sub-divisions; e) members of the military from the rank of lieutenant of its equivalent and above; and (f) marshals, deputy marshals, and sheriffs.”
The former Internal Affairs Minister suggests that the election of county officials should be an agenda for referendum.
Regarding Article 56 (b) of the Constitution, Sen. Blamoh said “It would be better if it is written: There shall be elections of County Superintendents, District Commissioners, City Mayors and Common Councils, and Paramount Chiefs, Clan and General Town Chiefs by the registered voters in their respective localities, each to serve for six years…”
Sen. Nelson supportsthe reduction of the tenure of the Presidency from six to four years; Senators – from nine to six years; Representatives – from six to four years.
He said clauses citing “Negro or of Negro Descendants” in the Constitution should be rephrased to reflect “persons born of Liberian parents shall qualify by birth or by a process of naturalization to be citizens of Liberia.”
Blamoh also told the lawmakers that Liberians should own mineral resources, in order to graduate from poverty, arguing that if the mineral only belongs to the government, it makes one to believe that the only way to get wealth is to work for government.
He suggested that all mineral resources in and under the seas and waterways shall not belong to the Republic, but rather it should be considered as strategic resources of the Republic, and as such, may be exploited only upon authority of the Republic with appropriate tax or other levies imposed on the wealth derived therefrom.