Legislature Resumes with Pressure to Set Referendum Agenda

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House Speaker Bhofal Chambers

-From Ellen to Weah

The House of Representatives will resume transaction of business today (Monday) after a break of three weeks, comprising an unprecedented extension of one week to the traditionally two-week Easter Break, to have a face-to-face discussion with their respective constituents about the ‘controversial’ Dual Citizenship and Landownership Bills.

The Senate resumed Thursday, April 12.

As of today’s date and before the end of its First Session on September 1, the 54th Legislature is expected to set the agenda for referendum to amend certain provisions of the constitution as suggested by former President Ellen-Johnson Sirleaf in 2016, and now demanded by President George M. Weah.

Sirleaf supported the call by some Liberians to reduce the presidential term of office from six to four years; representatives from six to four, as well as senators from nine to six years. The president also supported dual citizenship.

In 2016, the Leadership of the House of Representatives in the 53rd Legislature voted for the 25 propositions to be reduced to 6 items for the Referendum agenda. The process for the approval of the items by Plenary was interrupted by the 2017 Presidential and Representatives Elections.

Those propositions include: 1) Reduction in the Tenures of the President, Vice President, Members of the House of Representatives and Senate; 2) Restricting Citizens to only people of Negro Descent; 3) Rejecting Dual Citizenship; 4) Making Liberia a Christian Nation; 5) Enhancement of Women’s Participation and; 6) Traditional People owning their own land and being party to any negotiation with investors or concessionaires on said land.

The report was made by the Joint Committee on Good Governance and Government, Elections and Inauguration and Judiciary, chaired by Representative Larry Younquoi, after series of consultations sponsored by the government and UNDP (United Nations Development Program).

It may be recalled that in August 2012, President Sirleaf constituted a six-member committee, chaired by Counselor Gloria Musu Scott to, among other things, arrange public discourses to solicit views from Liberians across the country, and other parts of the world to make some changes in the 1986 Constitution and was about to formulate 25 propositions.

Now, the new demands of President Weah — the move by the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) to tackle the so-called racism in the constitution, which intends to open citizenship to any race as well as to allow non-citizens of Liberia to own property with certain restrictions — would require the House of Representatives to synchronize the reports of the Joint Committee on Good Governance and Government, Elections and Inauguration and Judiciary and the expected reports of the same committee, after four resolutions were submitted to be approved as the items for agenda.

The titles for the four resolutions for discussions and passage are Citizenship Amendment, Property Amendment, Qualifications, I Amendment, and Qualification II Amendment.

The Citizen Amendment is aimed at removing the “discriminatory” Negro clause and open citizenship to any race, while at the same time defining natural born Liberians and allowing them to have dual citizenship. The amendment will upset Articles 27 and 28 of the Liberian Constitution.

The purpose for the adjustment of the Property Amendment is to allow non-citizens of Liberia to own property, with certain restrictions. The Amendment will affect Article 22, in which the entire Article 22 will be deleted and a new Article 22 will be written as “Every Liberian citizen shall have the right to own property, as well as in association with others.”

Also, “Non-Liberians may own property under the restrictions,” and Qualification I Amendment is intended to restrict certain elected offices to natural born Liberian citizens as the term may be defined in the constitution. The amendment will be done in Article 30 and is rewritten: “Natural born citizens of Liberia who meet the following qualifications are eligible to become members of the legislature…”

In addition to the restriction of only natural born citizens to be eligible to become members of the legislature, Qualification II Amendment is also restricting the appointment of Supreme Court justices to natural born citizens. This amendment will be done in Article 68.

However, if the agenda for Referendum is approved by the House and the Senate and attested by the president, the 1986 Constitution mandates that the education of a referendum should be at least 12 months before the referendum be put to a national referendum.

Meanwhile, according to reports from the  National Elections Commission (NEC) in 2016, at least US$30 million is needed for the exercise.

17 COMMENTS

  1. About 390 million Liberian money subtracted from the Liberian people hard labor to change the constitution will carry not only an economic deficit in the economy still not pro-poor defined, to satisfy few gravy seekers and past corrupted administrations,but will cause another civil upheaval. It also favors slave sellers. Dual citizenry is not only redundant, since Liberia already has American in it, as regards freed slaves who formulated this nation with Chiefs, elders, their children and those that follow. “Negro descend” is the basic tool to wipe off slave traders and not a racial intent. As a caution let us avoid another tyranny and address the issues more important and move on with developing this nation with full reliance on our own natural resources. Better trade concession is a solution. 34% registration is not the authority. When the time comes to future when we can elect a 50% plus President than some amendments might be viable in the eyes of the nation if the need be. But for now, the Liberian people are poor and cannot allow your superfluous dreams. Liberia was founded for a purpose. If you are a Liberian, you should know the owners of this Land of liberty.
    Gone to silence. Do not reply.
    DO N

  2. Have much do you have in the Liberian pocket? What are the nation’s most pressing expenditures? How much have you put in the coffer of this country since you came to 34% registration power? Answer the Liberian people. Do not reply my box.

  3. “Only people of Negro descent shall become citizens of Liberia.” This restrictive clause was inserted in the Liberian Constitution not by blacks but by a white Man named Professor Samuel Greenleaf of Harvard University. He did this for a reason. It would be unwise on our part if we attempted to undo what this brilliant professor did to protect us as a nation from the strong economic power of his people(white people). I am sure Professor Greenleaf is rolling in his grave to learn that the Weah government wants to remove the restrictive clause to give the entire country to white people with the stupid excuse that “white people will build Liberia.” This is nonsensical and a serious joke. Liberia can only be built by Liberian themselves. Please, Mr. Weah, do not turn Liberia to another South Africa. As you go for your Referendum, make “Dual Citizenship of born Liberians” and the “removal of the restrictive clause in our Constitution” two separate issues.

  4. British exit of the EU coined ‘Brexit’ ensured through a June 23, 2016 referendum is now regretted by many voters who didn’t hear all sides of the matter, or knew the ramifications of the intended action. It is a cautionary tale for the government and people of Liberia. Thus all attempts should be made to get MoI and the independent mass media involved in awareness programs towards informing and educating urban communities and rural villages nationwide: The press was wonderful during Ebola.

    The long-term interest of our nation must supercede selfish advantages and parochial considerations. For instance, reducing tenures of elected officials and stabilizing compensations for higher echelons of government and state corporations are germane to political stability in a post-war environment, a UN Security Council Report described as “fragile, factious, and fraught”.

    Best evidence gathered from related disciplines indicate that elected officials are reponsive and more committed to executing campaign promises when their performance have to be evaluated at shorter periods by voters. That’s a role of elections, after all. Moreover, any post-war poor country like Liberia which compensates public servants more than their counterpants in the US must seriously reeaxamine its priorities.

    Pervasive poverty is an indicator of potential instability, no wonder tension always hangs over us; and pretending otherwise underscores lack of empathy for our country men, whose share of national wealth we hijacked through self-centered unjust laws. Reduced tenures of elected officials, and reduced compensations at the higher echelons in order to provide more opportunities for the suffering majority would show democratic participation and good governace – I vote in absentia for the duo.

  5. Can one interpret Weah’s inaugural speech of “Liberia is opened for business” as Liberia is for sale? In my humble opinion, making citizenship and land ownership to any or everybody regardless of color simply says come all you rich white people, buy Liberia and start another system that is apartheid or similar; which was taking control of the country from the citizens,putting her in the hand and control of rich foreign naturalized citizens who then told the poor soiled born citizens where to live.Mr.

    • Haha, why do you feel inferior to people of other races? Don’t be stupid…who will invest $100 million dollars to build a resort in Liberia if he can’t own the property? Would you do it if you had that kind of money? If you were smart enough to have that kind of wealth, you would never do that, would you? The country is in bush and we need to bring in huge investments and you have to give those investors ownership of their investments. That’s how it works my man. There is not a single Liberian on this earth worth more than $10 million dollars. So which Liberian has the kind of money it will take to build hotels, resorts, etc. in the country? The truth is we need investors to invest in the private sector to create jobs for our people, period.

  6. Can one interpret Weah’s inaugural speech of “Liberia is opened for business” as Liberia is for sale? In my humble opinion, making citizenship and land ownership to any or everybody regardless of color simply says come all you rich white people, buy Liberia and start another system that is apartheid or similar; which was taking control of the country from the citizens,putting her in the hand and control of rich foreign naturalized citizens who then told the poor soiled born citizens where to live.Mr. President, what are you and your advisors thinking?why has this become one of your priorities? Think on what Liberian people are saying.May God guide you in all thing I pray.

    • You’re very shortsighted and it’s sad. Who do you think will create jobs for Liberians? The government? So what if white people invest in our country? If they are willing to risk their capital, why can’t they own the property? Is it fair to tell an investor, “hey we want you to invest your money here but guess what? You can’t own your investment!” Investors will run like hell if you tell him that.

  7. Education is really important in anything we do in this World. This government have not even declared their assets as we speak and they talking about making Non-Negro citizens? These guys are jokers. Any attempt to sell the Natives land will be resisted. Let them find anoher way of making Liberians poor by using the little money available.

    I feel very sad for the new fight these guys are giving birth to. Because I am sure, there will be a fight. We already have land disputes, see Grand Gedeh and Nimba Counties, or Krahn and Gio historial disputes. Do not engaged into games/fights that you do not have intake of.

    If you guys do not have anything to do, just collect your salaries, drive around Monrovia, and have all the girls and women you guys want and stop playing with the Liberians people fellings. We just been through a 14 consecutive years of civil war. Many Liberians are stay on varies refugees camps all around the regions wanting to come home. And you are talking about making Non-Negros citizens?

    The term “Pro-Porr” do do not apply to making Non-Negros: Whites, Lebanese, Indians, Chinese, Arabs, and other people citizens in the name of national development and investment. It never happened from Tanzania to Burkina Faso, down to Rwanda. In these Countires, they put their people in charge and they the natives are the ones driving their developmental agendas. Empowering your own people!

    I am getting sick of these people. Are you people all aware of what is happening under the varies plantations control by Non-Negros in Liberia as we speak. At Sime Darby for example, Liberians are been tortured to death, som are been burial alive and you here talking about making Non-Negro citizens?

  8. President Barclay did not make white man citizen, President Tubman did not make white man citizen, President Tolbert did not make white man citizen, President Doe, did not make white man citizen, President Taylor(still alive) did not make white man citizen, President Sirleaf (still alive) did not make white man citizen. These leaders were all smart people. Leave this white man citizenship business alone. It is not in Liberia’s interest. First, empower your people. Engage them in the business that the Lebanese and Indian people are doing in Liberia. Help your people take charge of their own economy that is presently in the hands of the white people. When your own people(the poor people) are economically strong and own all the big businesses, the hotels, cinemas, airlines, banks, etc. etc. and their children are well educated, then you can talk about white people citizenship. Your people are catching hell. Taking them out of this hell they are catching should be your priority instead of talking about making white men citizens.

  9. Is that what the president came to power for to make people of non Negro Decent to be citizen and to have the right to own land in this country then he’s not ready yet.It will be good for him to use his wife country instead of this great land that our full fathers fought for we will not accept that we will informed all of our people in every villages,towns and cities not to accept this on the day of the referendum.I taught he should be talking about how to bring in companies to make our country work again.The issue of pro poor it a joke they are not serious minded people they only came to play fun out of the Liberian people shame on the pro poor people.

    • It seems you prefer the country stays in bush and poverty than giving investors ownership to their investments. It’s simple as that. Why is it difficult for you to understand that we are too poor to develop our own country? We have land but we don’t have money, and that’s the truth. So you want the white man to come here and invest his millions but you don’t want him to own the property? What a selfish idiot you are.

    • Investors are not stupid like you dumb Liberians. They’re wealthy for a reason because they’re smarter and no sound investor will risk his capital in a corrupt country like ours if he can’t own the property. Do you know Ghana, Ivory Coast, Senegal and many other African countries have open citizenship and they’re not slaves to white people? Stupidity is a disease and you are inflicted.

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