The Chairperson of the House Committee on Governance has announced that no referendum will be held on the 25 propositions advanced during the Gbarnga Conference.
He attributed the decision to the huge budget of US$20 million that is attached to the exercise.
Rep. Larry Younquoi made the disclosure recently at the launch of the Elections Coordinating Committee’s (ECC) three year strategic plan, an event that was attended by an array of state and non-state actors, at the YMCA in Monrovia.
He added that the timing to conduct a referendum was inappropriate given the divisive political environment.
He, however, lauded the ECC for the impressive work to aid the democratic transition in 2017.
Rep. Younquoi argued that to hold a referendum for the volume of propositions involved would amount to rewriting the constitution and suggested that if the referendum should be conducted it would be in the next political dispensation.
The National Civil Society Council of Liberia chairperson, Frances Greaves, stressed that civil society actors must work hard to dispel public skepticism about the upcoming elections.
She reminded CSOs about political parties’ primaries that must be monitored for various irregularities and added that partnership with NEC that has been fostered since 2005 must be nurtured.
The National Democracy Institute for International Affairs program manager, Thomas Du stressed the need for more support to the ECC to enhance effective long-term elections observation nationwide.
The Special Assistant to the ECOWAS, Ambassador Laula Ashola, on behalf of Ambassador Babatunde O. Ajaisomo reassured the ECC of support in promoting democracy through a credible electoral process in Liberia.
He stated that ECOWAS sees the ECC as a viable partner in sensitizing the public on a range of election information, among other things.
Ashola urged Liberians to take ownership of the 2017 elections, even as the global community is with the country to take political destiny into their own hands.
National Elections Commission Executive Director, Mr. Lamin Lighe, also provided information at the ECC strategic planning about budgetary needs that have been submitted to the Legislature.
Lighe disclosed that NEC will launch its strategic plan sometime this month and CSOs must be interested in plan documents to see what space has been created therein for collaboration on the diverse responsibilities and issues that come with the 2017 elections.
He said NEC needs funding to expedite some activities before the budget is approved and cited the need to refurbish warehouses across the country.
He urged civil society actors to follow up on issues affecting the National Electoral Commission.
ECC Chairman Oscar Bloh gave a power-point presentation of the key aspects of the strategic plan that include legal framework analysis, voter registration, observation and exhibition process, political party primaries, complaints from political parties, voting, post elections processes, appeals and Supreme Court resolutions.
It may be recalled that at last year’s Constitutional Review Conference in Gbarnga, Bong County, delegates voted for 25 propositions among which the controversial Number 24 is making Liberia a Christian Nation. Delegates came from 73 electoral districts across the country.
The propositions include the reduction of the tenure of the President and Representatives from six to four years and Senators from nine to six years; land owners on whose lands minerals and other resources are found are to share the benefits accrued with the government, and that they should be part of the negotiations between government and concessionaires.
Others are the dual citizenship issue and non-negroes being denied citizenship. They also voted against the dual currency regime, while rejecting the use of mutilated Liberian legal tender. They however called for the election of Superintendents, Commissioners, Mayors and Chiefs and for respect and recognition for persons with disabilities to be enshrined in the Constitution. Finally the Chief Justice must be elected, and that the Vice President should not preside over the Senate because of the principle of separation of powers.