Supreme Court Dumps Referendum

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The Supreme Court of Liberia has ruled in favor of the Collaborating Political Parties to have the pending December 8, 2020 referendum canceled, due to constitutional violations. The court, in a unanimous decision on Wednesday, November 18, granted the CPP’s request for a writ of prohibition and mandated the National Elections Commission (NEC) to abandon the referendum, which was to be held alongside the senatorial and representative by-elections.

The decision comes following a writ of prohibition filed at the Supreme Court by the Collaborating Political Parties (CPP) and numerous calls by various groups, including the Liberia National Bar Association (LNBA) and the Liberia Council of Churches, for the Elections Commission to leave the referendum out of the upcoming December 8 senatorial mid-term election.

Examining the constitutionality of CPP’s argument, the Supreme Court agreed with the CPP and held that the act of the Executive Branch of the Government of Liberia, in deviating from the clear language of the Resolution of the Legislature by combining and condensing the eight propositions into three categories, quite contrary to the provision of Article 92 of the Constitution which specifically mandates that each of the eight propositions be stated separately on the ballots to afford voters the opportunity to exercise their right of choice, the Government proceeded by the “wrong rules.”   

“To the mind of this Court, this is a violation of the letters and intent of the Constitution and the citizens’ rights of choice. The court agrees with the petitioners that, should the 1st Respondent (National Elections Commission) be permitted to print the ballot papers based upon the published OfficialGazette, then and in that case, that will constitute proceeding by the wrong rule,” said the Court.

Consistent with Article 91 of the Liberian Constitution, the Legislature adopted a Joint Resolution, proposing a constitutional referendum to amend eight articles of the 1986 Constitution.

Contrary to the resolution, the Executive Branch of the Government, in an official Gazette published on October 8, 2019 in “Volume XIX, No. 52”, condensed the eight proposed amendments into three Ballot measures, on which the electorate would have been required to vote “Yes” or “No”.

In its argument, the CPP said the official gazette published by the government was not consistent with the clear mandate of Article 92 which, in relevant part, states: “If more than one proposed amendment is to be voted upon in a referendum, they shall be submitted in such manner that the people may vote for or against them separately.”

CPP argued further that collapsing the proposed amendments into three (3) ballot measures “Has far-reaching implications for the fairness, integrity, and transparency of the referendum, and hence the constitutional democracy that the process seeks to enhance.”

The CPP in its argument noted: “If for instance, a voter votes “YES” to ballot Measure Number 3, his or her “YES” vote automatically translates into the approval of all the proposed amendments that have been collapsed under ballot Measure Number 3.”

The political group said given the lack of adequate public education and awareness on the proposals, such a choice is not only unconstitutional but is tantamount to a deliberate attempt to entrapping the voter to a pre-determined outcome.

In the opinion of the Supreme Court, it is stated: “It being the finding of this Court that the Official Gazette is inconsistent with the dictate of the Constitution, prohibition will lie to prevent the 1st Respondent form relying thereupon in the execution of its functions.  The Constitution provides that ballots for a referendum shall present the proposed amendments to the people in such a manner so as to avail them the opportunity to vote for or against them separately.  With this Ruling, the Referendum, cannot take place until a new Gazette consistent with the Resolution of the Legislature is published, logos identified for the eight (8) proposed amendments, and public education and awareness conducted on the proposed amendments.” 

Meanwhile, the condensed propositions that President George Weah has been pre-campaigning for without the National Elections Commission’s mandate include Dual Citizenship, Change of tenures of elected officials, and change of election date. These are the three on the surface with five others hidden thereunder that the electorate would have voted for in a lump-sum.

Legal experts have been skeptical about the change of the presidential tenure at this time, noting that if this is done, the certainty would exist that the current President would use this first tenure as a reason to contend that he is eligible to contest for additional two terms in the new tenure that may be agreed upon for the presidency.

9 COMMENTS

  1. Thanks to the Supreme Court for stopping the Referendum at this time. You have indeed save the State. We will commend the commendable things and condemn the condemnable things. God is not sleeping!!

  2. The Supreme Court’s decision to have upheld the writ of prohibition filed by the CPP sodifies the gains and have saved the State. Generations unborn will benefit from this awesome decision. Now, whoever may proffered and condensed the Eight (8) Propositions passed by the National Legislature can now go and suck air!

    • This Liberian government thinks the people are dumb. It’s refreshing to see citizens taking the government to the SC when their constitutional rights are being blatantly violated by this incompetent, corrupt government. This is how democracy works in the United States. When the government oversteps its authority, citizens or civic organizations sues the government. This concept is taking hold in Liberia and it’s very encouraging. The supreme court made the right decision based on the constitution and the law passed by the legislature to have these propositions voted on individually. Sorry, Weah, your trick is too simplistic to fool anyone.

      • In order to amend the Constitution of Liberia, Articles 91 and 92 outlined the following steps:

        1) Two-thirds of the membership of the Senate and House must be proposed and vote on a proposal to amend the Constitution of Liberia.

        2) Not fewer than 10,000 citizens of Liberia must write and submit to the Senate and House a petition.

        3) The proposed amendments must be stated in separately and distinctly counts.

        4) The amendments must be accompanied by a statement setting forth the reasons for the amendments, and,

        5) The proposed amendments must be presented to the people of Liberia not sooner than one year.
        Since their ascendency to power and the presidency in Liberia, Mr. Manneh Weah and his Government fashioned and contemplated the need to amend the following Articles of the 1986 Constitution:

        i) Article 28: Any person, at least one of whose parents was a citizen of Liberia at the time of the Person’s birth, shall be a citizen of Liberia; provided that any such person shall upon reaching maturity renounce any other citizenship acquired by one parent being a citizen of another country. No citizen of the Republic shall be deprived of citizenship or nationality except as provided by law, and no person shall be denied the right to change citizenship or nationality.

        ii) Article 50: The Executive Power of the Republic shall be vested in the President, who shall be Head of State, Head of Government, and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Liberia. The President shall be elected by universal adult suffrage of registered voters in the Republic and shall hold office for six years commencing at noon on the third working Monday in January of the year immediately following the elections.
        No person shall serve as President for more than two terms.

        iii. Article 51: There shall be a Vice-President who shall assist the President in the discharge of his functions. The Vice-President shall be elected on the same political ticket and shall serve the same term as the President. The Vice-President shall be President of the Senate and preside over its deliberations without the right to vote, except in the case of a tie vote. He shall attend meetings of the cabinet and other governmental meetings. He shall perform such functions as the President shall delegate or deem appropriate, provided that no powers expressly vested in the President by the provisions of this Constitution shall be delegated to the Vice-President.

        iv. Article 45: The Senate shall be composed of Senators elected for a term of nine years by the registered voters in each of the counties, but a Senator elected in a by-election to fill a vacancy created by death, resignation, expulsion or otherwise, shall be so elected to serve only the remainder of the unexpired term of office. Each county shall elect two Senators, and each Senator shall have one vote in the Senate. Senators shall be eligible for re-election.

        v. Article 46: Immediately after the Senate shall have assembled following the elections before the coming into force of this Constitution, the Senators shall be divided into two categories due to the votes cast in each county. The Senator that gained the higher votes cast shall be the Senator from a county in the same category. The seats of Senators of the first category shall be vacated at the expiration of the ninth year. In the interest of legislative continuity, the second category’s senators shall serve the first term of six years only, after the first elections. After that, all Senators shall be elected to serve a term of nine years.

        vi. Article 48: The House of Representatives shall be composed of members elected for a term of six years by the registered voters in each of the legislative constituencies of the counties, but a member of the House of Representatives elected in a by-election to fill a vacancy created by death, resignation or otherwise, shall be elected to serve only the remainder of the unexpired term of office. Members of the House of Representatives shall be eligible for re-election.

        v. Article 93: The limitation of the Presidential term of office to two terms, each of six years duration, may be subject to amendment, provided that the amendment shall not become effective during the term of office of the incumbent President.
        What did Mr. Weah and his Government wish to achieve by amending the above Articles?

        1. Amend Article 28, to admit Liberians naturalized in countries order than Liberia to dual citizenship.

        2. Amend Article 50, to permit Liberians to elect their President for only two terms. Each term to be limited only to 5 years each or a total of 10 years if re-elected by the people.

        3. Amend Article 45, to permit Liberians to elect a Senator for only six years with no limitation placed on the number of the term he/she decides to run for office.

        4. Amend Article 48, to permit Liberians to elect a Representative for only five years with no limitation placed on the number of terms he/she decides to run for office.

        5. Amend Article 83 of the 1986 Constitution to permit Liberians to elect the Presidents, Vice Presidents, Senators, and Representatives on the 2nd Tuesday in December.

        6. Amend the 1986 Constitution to permit Liberians to change the school year of their schools.
        Why did the Supreme Court of the Republic of decline the Weah-led Amendments?
        Amending Liberia’s Constitution, the proposed amendments must be guided and controlled by Articles 91 and 92 of Liberia’s 1986 Constitution. But notwithstanding, Mr. Weah and his Government in total indifference to Articles 91 and 92 our Constitution, knowingly and internationally:

        i. Violated the Articles 91 and 92 of the Republic’s Constitution by condensing their eight counts proposed amendments to 3 counts;

        ii. Proposed amendments were not accompanied by statements setting forth compelling reasons why their 3-count amendments should be ratified by the people;

        iii. The proposed amendments were presented to the people of Liberia in sooner than one year;

        iv. Violated the Constitution of Liberia by failing to sufficiently educate the people of the Republic; and,

        v. The proposed amendments were unlawfully combined with the upcoming December 8, 2020, Representative and Senatorial Elections.

        What Mr. Weah did and his Government stand to gain if their amendment were ratified?

        i. Mr. Weah and his Government could successfully argue and hold that their 12 years in office were not constitutionally provided for and mandated;

        ii. Mr. Weah and his Government could constitutionally opt to remain in power up to 2039 since their 3-count amendments were ratified by the people of the Republic;

        iii. By hastily and unconscionably amending Articles 50, 51, 45, 46, 48, and 93 of the 1986 Constitution without giving the people of the Republic sufficient and enough time to study, to understand its actual meaning and before voting on their amendments, Liberia and residents had given Mr. Weah and his Government the right stand for election in 2029; and

        iv. The ratified amendments could give Mr. Weah and his Government the right to remain in power and continue running Liberia up to 2039.

        Absolutely, the Supreme Court’s judgment implicitly protected and saved the Republic and its people from Mr. Weah and his Government’s unconstitutional attempt and cold-hearted venture.

        Since the constitutionality of Weah-led proposed amendments are declined and rejected by the Supreme Court of the Republic, Liberians must swiftly stand together and demand that Mr. Weah and his Government publish in all major Newspapers in Liberia their 8-count amendments and the reversed copy thereof.

        The secrecy that attended the Weah-led Government’s plan to ratify and amend Liberia’s Constitution to inexplicitly remain in power and continue to rule Liberia is totally breathtaking and troubling.

        Absolutely, this is why Liberians need to wholeheartedly thank the Supreme Supreme Court!

      • What did Mr. Weah and his Government stand to gain if their proposed amendments were ratified?

        i. Mr. Weah and his Government could successfully argue and hold that their 12 years in office were not constitutionally provided for and mandated by the Constitution of Liberia;

        ii. Mr. Weah and his Government could constitutionally opted and argued to remain in power up to 2039, since their 3-count amendments to the Constitution of Liberia, were ratified by the people;

        iii. By hastily and unconscionably amending Articles 50, 51, 45, 46, 48, and 93 of the 1986 Constitution, Mr. Weah and his Government could successfully argue and hold that they have the right to run for office in 2029.

        iv. Like the Late President W.V.S. Tubman, Mr. Weah and his Government could rule Liberia for 22 years; and,

        v. Mr. Weah and his Government 3-count amendment, could possibly return Liberia from peace to conflict.

  3. James, I agree with most of what you said except your first statement. The Liberian don’t think people are dumb, the Liberian government is dumb; that’s why they didn’t realize what they were doing was unconstitutional. Anyway, that’s not surprising. That’s exactly what you get when you elect folks like these.

  4. If your reckless conclusion (eg.That’s exactly what you get when you elect folks like these) about the choice of voters made any sense, the reality would not be what is documented hereunder by critics of the very government…

    “Liberia has made improvements in the ensuring rule of law and gender in economy, according to the new Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) scorecard expected to be released on Monday.

    The MCC Compacts are based on the principle that the U.S. assistance is more effective in countries that have adopted policies promoting an environment for economic growth and poverty reduction. Every year, MCC publishes scorecards for all candidate countries, including countries such as Liberia with already signed, ongoing compacts. The scorecard assesses performance in three policy categories: ruling justly, investing in people, and encouraging economic freedom.

    The ruling Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) has drawn up a comparison from data attained from Transparency International’s 10th Global Corruption Barometer capturing the corruption index of 2019 which shows that corruption in Liberia was minimized in 2019 compared to its soaring heights in 2015 when Ellen Johnson Sirleaf was President.“

  5. Mr. False Nationalist,

    People like you and others singing songs of praises to Mr. George Manneh Weah and his Government are absolute disgrace and national embarrassment to Liberia. You lowlife apologists, and praise singers to Mr. George Manneh Weah and his Government, need to advice from Mr. Manneh Weah to get off his hands and govern Liberia. Advice the Weah-led Government to muster the courage and swiftly publish their politically motivated and controlled so-called autopsy report.

    Skilled and educated fellow Liberians were abducted, tortured, and murdered in cold-blood. Liberians residing abroad and back home deserve to know who abducted, tortured, and murdered Albert K. Peters, Gifty A. Lama, George F. Fahnboto, Emmanuel B. Nyesuwa, Mathew Innis. And the Late George Kollie who died mysterious and unexplained deaths on the WATCH of Mr. Manneh Weah and his Government. Liberians everywhere want to know. The minor children and family members of the Late Albert, Gifty, George, Emmanuel, Mathew, and George deserve to know who murdered the relatives.

    The world needs to know and our development partners want to know.

    Instead of you, Garsuah Gbovlehn, Mae Moore, Matilda Witherspoon, and other heartless apologists and outrageous praise singers of Mr. Manneh Weah and his Government sitting on your hands, you all need to advise Mr. Weah and his Government to tell Liberia and the world who murdered the Auditors. These Liberians were abducted, tortured, and murdered. Advise Mr. Weah and his Government to come forth and say who murdered Albert, Gifty, George, Emmanuel, Mathew, and the Later George.

    Instead of lowlife people like you writing and publishing trash and singing praises to Mr. Weah and his Government, you need to advise Mr. Weah and his Government to come forth and say who abducted, tortured, and murdered Liberia’s professional auditors. Liberians and the families need to know.

    Advice and remind Mr. Manneh Weah and his Government, that we are keenly watching!

  6. Frederick Jayweh, its a pity your dullness extends to you suffering from reading comprehension disorder. Was it I True Nationalist who wrote and published the aforementioned information on the rule of law been improved immensely under the presidential leadership of President George Manneh Weah, and corruption is relatively nonexistent under the government of President Weah as compared to the Joseph Boakai and Ellen Johnson Sirleaf Unity Party government ?

    Those publications were made by internationally acclaimed and respected integrity institutions as The Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), and Transparency International, and disseminated by the media. READ WITH COMPREHENSION AND GIVE THANKS AND PRAISES TO A GOVERNMENT SET TO BUILD YOU A GREAT NATION!

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