17 December 2013

Liberia: Constitutional Hurdle - S.K. Doe Jr., Robert Sirleaf's Quest for Senate Hangs in Balance

Monrovia — As midterm legislative elections in Liberia draws nearer, names are beginning to surface in the political corridors with aspirants expressing interest in contesting for seats at the Liberian senate.

Many of the names surfacing are incumbents, yet still there are others who want to taste legislative politics for the first time but constitutional provisions could prove a hurdle to the political ambition of some aspirants.

Big names are also surfacing including the likes of the son of former President Samuel K. Doe, Samuel K. Doe, Jr. and the son of incumbent president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Robert Sirleaf. Amongst the many aspirants, constitutional provision could haunt the two big names. Doe Jr is said to be aspiring for the senate from Grand Gedeh County while Robert is believed to aspiring for Gbarpolu County.

Article 30 A and B of the 1986 Liberian constitution states "Citizens of Liberia who meet the following qualifications are eligible to become members of the Legislature.(a) for the Senate, have attained the age of 30 years and for the House of Representatives, have attained the age of 25 years; (b) be domiciled in the county or constituency to be represented not less than one year prior to the time of the election and be a taxpayer".

With dollars at the disposal of the two to run campaign in two impoverished counties, constitutional provisions could prove costly for both Robert and Samuel thus serving as hurdle in their quest for seat at the Liberian senate.

Some citizens of Gbarpolu County who begged for anonymity because of their link with the ruling Unity Party have expressed serious concern over Mr. Robert Sirleaf rumoured quest to contest in the senatorial race from that county come 2014.

"I agree that by birth he has the right to represent the county at the legislature but per the constitution he is not qualified because he has not been a domicile of the area for the length of time required by the constitution", one strong Unity Party Gbarpolu County member expressed.

Some are arguing that Mr. Robert Sirleaf, son of the President though has served in government as Adviser to his mother, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and President of the National Oil Company (NOCAL), a position he just resigned but has not lived in Gbarpolu County for one year or more as per the constitution.

The Citizens promised to seek legal redress if rumours emerging about Robert's ambition to contest 2014 in Gbarpolu County are true.

At a news conference early this year, Mr. Robert Sirleaf told the Liberian public that he has no political ambition and does not want to contest for any public position.

Constitution haunts Doe

Samuel K. Doe Jr., son of Liberia's former President Samuel K. Doe, like his counterpart Robert Sirleaf has been rumored to be harboring political ambition, planning to contest the 2014 special senatorial race in Grand Gedeh County.

Doe Jr., unlike Robert Sirleaf has lived in the United States of America since the country long lasting civil war beginning in the early 90s when former president Charles Taylor launched a rebel war to outs his father, President Samuel K. Doe from power.

With the names of other prominent sons of the county also emerging including; Zoe E. Pennoh now Representative, George Boley former leader of the Liberia Peace Council, a rebel group that was dominated by the krahns, the name Samuel Doe Jr. many believe could be scaring to the other contenders not based on qualification or popularity but as a consequence of the fame of his late father.

Evidence by results of past elections that Liberians vote based on sympathy Doe, jr could be voted overwhelmingly by the people of Grand Gedeh should he pass the test of the constitutional provision.

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