In a unanimous vote on Tuesday, October 1, 2019, members of the House of Representatives concurred with the Senate to set agenda for the much talked about 2020 referendum on the Dual Citizenship Clause; the tenure of the President, etc.
Members of the House of Representatives concurred withe the senate during the 24th day sitting after series of deferments since the Senate transmitted the approved three propositions on September 24 under the signature of the Senate Secretary, J. Nanborlor F. Singbeh.
The House’s concurrence with the Senate indicates that, with the approval of the President, and printing into handbills, there will be a referendum after one year the day the handbills was signed.
The propositions include, the Dual Citizenship Clause (Article 28) – as Proposition 1; Reduction of Tenure of the President, Vice President, and members of the Legislature (Articles 46, 47, 48, 49 and 50) — Proposition 2 and the Date of Elections (Article 83 (a) and (c) –Proposition 3.
Dual Citizenship with Bottleneck
Both Houses unanimously voted to amend the Dual Citizenship Clause in Article 28 of the 1986 Constitution, but with limitations to say: Any person, at least one of whose parents was a citizen of Liberia at the time of the person’s birth, shall be a natural born citizen of Liberia; a natural born citizen’s right to citizenship of Liberia is inherent and inalienable; no law shall be enacted or regulation promulgated which deprives a natural born of the Republic of his/her citizenship right; and any law or regulation which alienates or deprives a natural born of the Republic of his/her citizen right is null and void abinitio.
A natural born citizen of Liberia may hold the citizenship of another country, but shall not qualify for elected positions and the following appointed positions: Chief Justice and Associate Justices of the Supreme Court of Liberia; Cabinet Ministers, Deputy Ministers; all heads of Autonomous Commissions, Agencies and Non-Academic/Research/Scientific Institutions and Ambassadors.
Reduction of Tenure
Members of the 54th Legislature has also amended Articles 46, 47, 48, 49 and 50 of the Constitution to reduce the tenures of the President and Vice President to the term of five years, and can only seek reelection for a second-term.
The term of the House of Representatives is reduced to five years, but can unceasingly seek reelections. The term of the Senate is also reduced to seven years, but can also unceasingly seek reelection.
The Speaker and the President Pro Tempore can be elected once every five years.
Change of Election Date
For the third Proposition, both Houses have voted to amend Article 83 (c) of the Constitution, that the Date of Election shall be changed from the second Tuesday in October to the second Tuesday in November of each election year.
Also, the Legislature has changed the number of days of complaint, from 30 to 15 days, for the Election Commission to receive complaints, conduct an impartial investigation and render a decision which may involve a dismissal of the complaint or a nullification of the election of a candidate.
But the amendment did not change the seven days of appeal that any political party or independent candidate might be affected by decision from the Election Commission to the Supreme Court.