Liberia: New Constitution, not Referendum

12 November 2020

-Sen. Wesseh suggests

As Liberians gear up for senatorial election and national referendum on December 8, 2020, River Gee County Senator Conmany B. Wesseh thinks the country needs a totally new construction rather than a referendum that seeks changes in terms for the presidency and House of Representatives, the senate and legislation for dual citizenship.

Sen. Wesseh, from the opposition Collaborating Political Parties told a news conference Thursday, November 12, in Monrovia the 1986 Constitution which Liberians currently uphold was written under influence of the military since the People's Redemption Council was headed by late Master Sergeant Samuel Kanyon Doe.

As a member of the former Constitutional Advisory Committee that crafted the 1986 Constitution, he suggests that if the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change government headed by President George Weah means well for Liberia and rule of law, it should instead, concentrate on writing a new constitution to meet present day's realities than rallying the population for national referendum.

He argues that many articles and provisions of the current constitution were intended to protect and defend actions and inactions of military leaders, who at the time needed such legal protection.

"Cancel the December 08 National Referendum [and] replace it with creation of [a] new constitution. The reason it is simple; we are calling for huge portion of the constitution to be changed through a voting process by our people. I think it is waste of time and resources because the needed result will not be realized," the senator argues.

Historicizing the process, Wesseh recounted that the 2003 Comprehensive Peace Accord signed in Accra, Ghana proffered change of constitution, which ex-president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf heeded to by establishing the Constitution Review Committee headed by former Chief Justice, Cllr. Gloria Musu Scott.

The Committee after two careful review processes proposed 25 propositions for amendment through a national referendum but of that number, the Liberian Legislature only selected eight of the 25, meaning the actual thinking of the Liberian people is not being reflected in the current propositions.

When quizzed if a new constitution is created and endorsed by the Liberian people it could give President Weah and opportunity to seek third term, Sen. Wesseh explains a new constitution will contain a 'very clear clause' which will state that the current President is to serve one term as the new constitution comes into force.

According to him, creation of a new constitution will be cheaper than the pending national referendum.

Commenting on recent ruling from the ECOWAS Court, mandating the Government of Liberia to re-instate impeached Justice Kabineh Ja'neh, Senator Wesseh says government should be responsible enough by meeting mandates as enshrined in the ruling.

Wesseh further stated that the Liberian Legislature who took the action of removal and subsequent impeachment of ex- Associate Justice Kabineh Ja'neh should muster courage to restore rights and dignity of Cllr. Ja'neh.

He noted that both the House of Representatives and the Liberian Senate constitutionally and political blundered with the impeachment of the former associate justice.

He observes that during proceedings for the impeachment of Cllr. Ja'neh, the legislature misled the Liberian people, the government and the President, and such deception was supervised by current Chief Justice Francis Korpkor, who presided.

"The reason Cllr. Ja'neh took the matter to ECOWAS is to redeem his name, profession and protect future of his children because things were to remain as it is, the shame and embarrassment of the future would have affected [his] children and grandchildren."

He emphasizes that government should respect the rule of law adding, if there's a country that should disrespect ECOWAS, that should not be Liberia, and reminds that ECOWAS played a pivotal role doing Liberia's 14 years of civil crisis.

The Liberian lawmaker recalls that from the onset of the crisis in 1989, the now late President Jerry John Rawlings of Ghana and former Nigerian President Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida were the first regional heads of state who called for peacekeepers and raised necessary funding for such peace in Liberia, a founding member state of the regional body.

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