At Retreat, President Weah Accelerates Constitutional Amendment
- Advances Dual Citizenship Debate
President George Weah has told members of the 54th Legislators that stronger partnership between the Executive and Legislative branches was essential to constitutional and governance efforts aimed at improving the lives of citizens and advancing national development.
The President pointed out that it was time to review the 1986 Constitution of the Republic of Liberia to further strengthen the democracy thereby redefining some laws of the country in the interest of all.
He was speaking Friday at the beginning a two-day Presidential Retreat he called mainly to deliberate on seven basic constitutional propositions he has submitted to the Legislature for action.
In other words, the intent of the Farmington retreat is to reintroduce the Constitution review process, which was initiated in 2012 by former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, who set up the six-member Constitution Review Committee (CRC).
When the CRC concluded its nationwide consultations and outreach, delegates from across the country converged at a National Constitution Conference in Gbarnga, Bong County in 2015, and agreed on 25 prepositions currently before the Legislature for subsequent testing in a referendum.
And tapping into the past work of the previous government, President Weah, in attendance with his Vice President, said he now wants to accelerate the debate that could see the constitution translate into concrete action on the part of the Legislature, suggesting that the two-day roundtable talks and brainstorming was the great start that could erase the bottlenecks.
The constitutional review process requires the necessary support of the National Legislature in order to advance to the referendum stage. President Weah said believes that the he could not achieve amending the constitution if he did not spearhead the initiative to get it done.
“It is for this purpose that I have invited you here to reflect on seven of the revised prepositions at this retreat. Another reason for which we are here is to appeal to you to consider legislations pending before you, because, as you know; legislation is one of the most important instruments of government organizing society and protecting its citizens in determining, among other things, rights of individuals and authorities to whom the legislation applies,” Pres. Weah said to the lawmakers.
When he said seven “revised” prepositions, the President was referencing the recent proposed legislations sent to the Legislature for action.
They prepositions include call for amendments to Article 28 of the Constitution to provide for dual citizenship for persons of Non-Negros or of Negro decent; Article 45 to provide for filling vacancies created by death, resignation, expulsion, or otherwise of lawmakers; Article 46 to provide for the reduction in tenure of Senators of the first category to be reduced to seven years, and the second category, to six years; and Article 48 which seeks to limit the term of Representatives to five years instead of six.
Others proposals from the prepositions from the President’s desk point to amendments of Article 49 to enable the election of a Speaker, Deputy Speaker and other officers of the House of Representatives once every five years instead of six years; while Article 50 provides for the reduction in the tenure of the President from six to five years; and for an amendment of Article 66 to provide for the establishment of Regional intermediary Appellate Court in the country with appellate jurisdiction above circuit courts and decisions by these courts shall be final excerpts in cases where the Supreme Court has jurisdiction.
The Retreat ends on Saturday.
Observers say it is a major sign of great prospects for national development through dialogues, consultations, agreements, and concrete actions by members of the three branches of the Liberian government.
Writes: Emmanuel wise Jipoh