Monday, 11 April 2011

“Stage Managed Referendum”

Winston Tubman Claims Elections Commission-Planned Referendum is Intended to Maintain Incumbent in Power

David B. Kolleh,, (231 631 0032)

You can’t just change it any day; there are processes that are long drawn out, constitutional process that will have to be observed before the constitution can be amended. It is not something you can do suddenly because the whole idea is to protect the basic rights of the people. The NEC had earlier said it was not going to be possible to do a referendum so close to the elections, why did they change, how suddenly it became necessary for the holding of a referendum.   
Over the weekend, the Congress for Democratic Change (CDC) newest sensation, Ambassador Winston Tubman who once suffered  the blow of a broken deal following a communique signed between him and the Political leader of the party, George Weah, have termed the upcoming Referedum a stage Managed process intended to suit the incubent and support it in power.
“Why are they carrying on the planned referendum anyway? Ambassdor Tubman wondered. “It is because they want to keep the current government in office. Who told the government that a referendum was needed at all costs to admend certain portions of the constitution, the people didn’t do so; then who made the call for the change of the constitution especially, the domicile clause, this government did.” The Former UN envoy to Somalia told FrontPage Africa in an exclusive interview.
Ambassador Tubman said the referendum does not have any constitutional backing at this time, due to the time the country is set for the holding of elections.
Article 91, According to Cllr. Tubman  says:  “This Constitution may be amended whenever a proposal by either (1) two-thirds of the membership of both Houses of the Legislature or (2) a petition submitted to the Legislature, by not fewer than 10,000 citizens which receives the concurrence of two-thirds of the membership of both Houses of the Legislature, is ratified by two-thirds of the registered voters, voting in a referendum conducted by the Elections Commission not sooner than one year after the action of the Legislature.”
This portion of the constitution according to the former UN envoy shows a violation of the organic laws of the state.
 Further solidifying his argument against the upcoming referendum the Liberian Lawyer quoting Article 92 of the constitution Cllr. Tubman said “Proposed constitutional amendments should have been accompanied by statements setting forth the reasons therefore and shall be published in the Official Gazette and made known to the people through the information services of the Republic. If more than one proposed amendment is to be voted upon in a referendum they shall be submitted in such manner that the people may vote for or against them separately.”
The Liberian Politician said the people have not been adequately informed about the legal implications of amending the law, adding ‘there is no time for the people to be told, all this is happening because someone wants to hide behind the elections to push the country to a referendum without properly telling the Liberia people why’. 
Amidst these outcries the Election Commission (NEC) seems set to proceed with the planned referendum. Almost three weeks ago the commission issued a Writ of Referendum to elections magistrates announcing May 1, 2011 to August 1, 2011 from 8 a. m. to 6 p. m. as the periods for campaigning for the National Constitutional Referendum in Liberia. 
The magistrates were identified from 19 magisterial areas in the country thereby identifying August 23, 2011 as the official date for the conduct of the National Constitutional Referendum which is in keeping with the Joint Resolution passed by the 52nd National Legislature. “This is required under Section 4.3 (1) and (2) of the 1986 New Elections Law directing the Elections Magistrates to proceed with the conduct of a National Referendum,” NEC Co-Chairperson Elizabeth Nelson had said of the pending extraordinary media event.

Opposition leaders have maintained that the chairman of the Country’s electoral body Mr. James Fomoyan needs to step down from the commisssion, because according to them, he has a special relationship with the incubent leader, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. But Mr. Fromoyan in similar manner have denied the alleagtions, challenging his accusers to provide proof.
Another issue raised by Oposition Political parties is what they call the decision of the commission  to call to book certain parties who it have warned of carrying on pre-campaigning actions ahead of the November polls and not applying the same rules to the ruling party even though they claim, the NEC is also aware that the incubent is doing even more pre-campaigning.