Liberia: Protect the Constitution

27 November 2020

-former foreign minister urges Liberians

Former foreign minister Olubanke King-Akerele calls on Liberians to stand firm in protecting the Constitution of Liberia stressing, Liberia is nothing without the Constitution. Madam King-Akerele said the pending national referendum is not timely because citizens lack adequate educations to enable them make informed decisions at the poll.

Her comment comes at a time Liberians are embroiled in a debate over the holding of a referendum on key Prepositions that would change aspects of the constitution such as seeing reduction in the presidential and legislative tenures and granting dual citizenships.

The ruling Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) is campaigning on a yes vote, while members of the opposition community and other civil society groups are not kicking against the prepositions but rather arguing that the time is too short.

But serving as commencement speaker during the 20th Commencement Convocation of the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) University in Paynesville on Wednesday, 25 November she said the entire process is beset by lack of clarity and so much confusion.

The former Foreign Minister pointed that calls from civil society to the National Elections Commission to halt all processes for the referendum until adequate public awareness is conducted have gone unnoticed.

She wondered what is the relevance of the Supreme Court when the government does not adhere to its ruling, and instead, goes ahead to conduct the referendum.

Madam King-Akerele noted that there were so many suggestions by Liberians to the Constitution Review Committee but why only four propositions when Liberians aired out their voices during a constitutional review under the supervision of former Chief Justice Gloria Musu Scott.

"What happened to the interest of women? Why they are not captured in the referendum?" She asked.

A prolific writer and author of several books on Liberia, she also wondered why the government is not listening to its people and why advisors are not talking truth to government. "The Constitution provides for the people to make decisions but why the government is not listening to its people?"

At the same time she questioned the National Elections Commission's role in the referendum, whether it has the power to do what the Legislature is supposed to do, noting that as an autonomous agency that should exercise great deal of independence to convince all parties of its impartiality, the NEC must review its activities in the way it is proceeding.

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