Liberia: ECC Calls for Constitutional Amendment

The Elections Coordinating Committee (ECC) says a comprehensive constitutional amendment is necessary to consolidate the country's "fragile democracy."

ECC's Coordinator Oscar Bloh made the remarks on Tuesday, Agust 13, 2019 at a news conference in Monrovia. The ECC, he said, supports and commends President George Weah's intention and idea to amend the constitution.

It can be recalled that last week the media reported that President Weah was contemplating Constitutional amendments to reduce the tenures of the presidency from six to five years.

"These initial proposals from the President are welcoming. At the same time, the ECC calls on the President to recommend to the National Legislature a comprehensive amendment to the Constitution in order to avoid a constant change to provisions within the Constitution. This will also minimize financial costs on the government," Mr. Bloh said.

According to Mr. Bloh, a broad amendment to the Constitution will create the opportunity for far-reaching legal reforms including "a change of the election date (Article 83A) and removing it from the Constitution."

He said: "Put a stop to the conduct of by-elections because of low turn-out and financial burden on the government (Article 37 of the Constitution). The removal of judicial powers from the National Elections Commission (NEC) in the resolution of electoral petitions (Article 83C)."

Mr. Bloh continued: "The elimination of the racist clause on citizenship (Article 27B). Limit the appointing powers of the President so that Superintendents and City Mayors can be elected in pursuit of full political decentralization (Article 54C). A change to provisions that have to do with the formation and operations of political parties (Chapter 7 of the Constitution), that would lead to the formulation of a Political Party Act. To alter the provision on how amendments to the Constitution can take place (Article 92)."

To achieve the objectives, ECC further recommended that, "in order to minimize confusion among voters, the comprehensive amendments to the Constitution will be determined through a "NO" or "YES" vote rather than on individual propositions."

Mr. Bloh said the broader Constitutional review process is led by the Law Reform Commission (LRC) and membership expanded to include representatives from Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), Law School, political parties, Inter-Religious Council of Liberia (IRCL), the Liberian National Bar Association (LNBA), National Traditional Council, and the Liberia Chamber of Commerce (LCC).

The Elections Coordinating Committee (ECC) is a civil society platform, comprising six (6) organizations that observe elections in Liberia.

The members include: Actions for Genuine Democratic Alternatives (AGENDA); Center for Democratic Governance (CDG); Center for Media Studies and Peace Building (CEMESP); Institute for Research and Democratic Development (IREDD); Naymote Partners for Democratic Development (NAYMOTE-PADD); West Africa Network for Peace Building (WANEP), and the Women's NGO Secretariat of Liberia (WONGOSOL).

The ECC works in partnership with the Liberia Accountability Voice Initiative (LAVI), with support from USAID.

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