House Speaker J. Alex Tyler has differed with President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf on the reduction of the presidential and legislative terms of offices.
Speaker Tyler said the reduction of tenures of Presidents, Senators and Representatives amidst the country’s very bad economy is inconvenient and untimely.
Tyler said there would be an inevitable problem owing to the fact the country is yet to shoulder responsibility over the holding of national elections, and depends on the international community for over 75 percent support.
The Bomi County District #1 Lawmaker said if the constitution is amended on the reductions of the presidential, legislative terms of office there would be at least four elections in six years, ranging from presidential, senatorial and by-elections, and would cost at least US$200 million, which is “very expensive for the Liberian economy.”
Speaker Tyler made the observations on Wednesday during the formal opening marking the five-day retreat of the Lawmakers in Ganta, Nimba County. The retreat is sponsored by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP).
The Speaker said that in the event of the tenure limitation, it means that there would be elections in 2017, 2021, 2022 and 2023 and any other year if there is death or incapacitated situations.
With the dissatisfaction of the Speaker on the first three propositions on the recurrent proposals from the Constitution Review Committee (CRC), it would mean that the House would not include the reduction of terms on the Executive and Legislature on the pending referendum.
The CRC calls for the reduction of the presidential term of office from six to four years; reduction of the senatorial term of office from nine to six years and reduction of term of office of representatives from six to four years.
Speaker Tyler’s analysis on the economy against the unchanging of President and Legislative tenures is contrary to the opinion of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, which categorically concurred with the reduction of tenures.
In the President’s letters to Speaker Tyler and President Pro Tempore Jallah in August-2015, she said her opinion is inclined toward improving the governance of the nation and believed the proposed reduced terms of office are in harmony with the National Vision and would foster National unity.
Reports gathered suggest that over 90 percent of the 35 lawmakers have agreed with the Speaker on the non-amendment of tenures of the President and Legislators, except the Chairman on the Committee on Lands, Mines and Energy, Rep. Gabriel Nyenkanwho who completely agreed with the President on the issue.
Speaking with journalists in Ganta, Rep. Nyenkanwho, of Montserrado County District #11, said the tenures of three offices’ should be reduced to enable the country to raise the necessary funds to hold elections concurrently, and for the international community to be able to continue supporting elections without hesitation.
Rep. Nyenkan made the assertions yesterday in an interview with journalists in Ganta.
It can be recalled that in August 2012, based on recommendations from the Governance Commission, the President established the CRC and appointed six eminent citizens: former Chief Justice Gloria Scott as Chairperson, Madam Amelia Ward, Rev. Kennedy Sandy, Prof. Elwood Dunn, Rev. Dr. Jaspar N’darbolor, Mr. Soko V. Sackor. Dr. Amos C. Sawyer, chairman of the Governance Commission and Cllr. Jallah A. Barbu, the Chairman of the Law Reform Commission, are ex-officio members.
In furtherance of the CRC mandate, the Committee, among things, conducted consultations in all 73 Electoral Districts of Liberia as well as selected foreign countries where large numbers of Liberia reside.