By J. Burgess Carter
The former chairman of the Liberty Party is suggesting that a referendum for reduction in the tenure of President, Senator, and Representatives, be conducted along with the October 14, 2014 Special Senatorial Election.
Mr. Israel Akinsanya also challenged Liberians not to support any candidate in the 2014 special elections, who does not support a referendum alongside the ballot that deals with the tenure of the President from six to four years, Senators from nine to six, and Representative from six to four.
Mr. Akinsanya, who made the statement recently in Monrovia following his official return to the party he resigned from after the 2011 Presidential and General Elections, suggested that any Senator contesting any of the 15 senatorial seats, who does not support those suggested reductions should not be voted into office.
“I believe the tenure of the President has the propensity to create an imperial presidency, but with the reduction of the term through the results of a referendum, the imperial tendency will be reduced because you only have four years to perform and go back to the people for re-election. It would make the people active participants in the democratic process, thus avoiding the long waiting period before another election, and supporting the notion that for democracy to be successful there must be continuous checkmate through elections.”
The LP stalwart further urged any candidate that doesn’t support the referendum and who has anything to do with the election of mayors in local governments, should not be voted into office either.
“We have the moral responsibility now to ensure that the next 15 senators that are going to the Capitol Building will carry a mandate of the people which will be that the two caveats that will be put into referendum will be in support of them and they will vote for them.”
The reductions in tenures, according to Akinsanya, will afford the electorate frequent interaction with those they elect, and as such, the representatives will not be complacent and will make laws that will be in the electorates’ and their own best interest, as they would be aware they have to go back for re-election.
He said the city mayors too, must be elected for four years, noting that if they were elected, there would be more work coming out of the cities and towns.
In related development, Mr. Akinsanya also disagreed with recent arguments that soccer icon George Weah’s election to the Senate will help prepare him for the 2017 Presidential elections, saying nothing has been shown in Liberia’s contemporary history that those who come out of the House of Representatives and Senate will do any better than those that have not gone there.
He said the Legislature (Senate) calls for someone who has extreme love, knowledge, and wisdom to share with his/her people; someone who may be what he described as a “lightning rod,” who has taken some bruises(politically), and not necessarily one who is looked on as a “messiah.”
“Most of the presidents in Africa and other parts of the world that are ascending to the presidency are people who have gone through some trials and tribulations, some have experienced brutal beatings, some contested three to four times before seeing the promised land. I don’t think that someone just going into the House of Representatives or Senate for one term gains him or her all the necessary experiences to be president of any country,” he explained
With an apparent sense of humor, Akinsanya said personally he would vote for Benjamin Sandy who wants to occupy the Montserrado County Senatorial post, against Amb. George Weah, whom he said is repeatedly heard saying that he wants to capture the senatorial seat of Monrovia as his party’s stronghold.
George Weah’s party, the Congress for Democratic Change (CDC) has since denied that Mr. Weah said such.