Liberia’s Elections Coordinating Body Presents Electoral Reform Propositions to Legislature

The Elections Coordinating Committee has submitted to the House of Representatives seventeen propositions for Electoral reform in Liberia.

The acting chairman of the Elections Coordinating Committee Malcolm Joseph, who led a delegation of other CSO partners  to the House of Representatives  on August 27, 2019  presented the  amendments  contained in the ECC position paper that was received by the Chairman of the House Committee on Elections and Inaugurations  Alex Grant.

Mr. Joseph used the occasion to recall the process that had begun in the aftermath of the 2017 elections when the local elections observatory through several consultations across Liberia  noted certain anomalies with provisions of the New Elections Law and the 1986 Constitution.

The presentation  ceremony represents a critical milestone in the electoral reform process that ECC with support from USAID  through LAVI has deemed necessary in making up for the lapses identified.

From the seventeen amendment areas  presented, nine propositions are drawn from the New Elections Law, six from the 1986 constitution, one from the Code of Conduct  on political participation and one from the guidelines on registration of political parties and Independent Candidates.

The ECC position paper on the electoral reform provided case by case rationale for each amendment proposition submitted.

For instance the amendment of chapter 2 subsection 2.1 on the need to amend the National Elections Commission as an autonomous body to be under the direction and management of seven commissioners appointed by the President of whom three shall be either sexes and no two of them shall be from the same county, with a shortlist derived from a process of public vetting. This process shall be managed by an adhoc committee of seven persons, one nominee from civil society working on elections, religious institutions, women group, the Bar Association, the Governance Commission, the Press Union of Liberia and the private sector. These nominees shall be appointed by the Chief Justice with one of them serving as chair. The committee shall submit nine names of successful candidates for onward submission to the President, who shall appoint commissioners with one of them chairperson and another as Vice Chairperson. All of the appointees shall be subject to the consent of the senate.

Another amendment area has to do with Article 45 that the Senate shall be composed  of senators elected for a term of nine years by the registered voters in each county, with a proposed version that reads: the senate shall compose of senators elected for a term of seven years by the registered voters in each of the counties.

In similar vein Article 48 of the Constitution which reads that the House of Representative shall be composed of members elected for a term of six years by the registered voters in each of the legislative constituencies of the counties; has been proposed for amendment to now read as: the House of Representatives shall be composed of members elected for a term of five years by the registered voters in each of the legislative constituencies of the counties.

Receiving the Propositions, the Chairman of the house committee on Elections and Inauguration Representative Grant thanked the ECC and pledged the full commitment of the National Legislature to amicably address electoral reform issues that have been submitted.

He acknowledged that the ECC electoral reform process has a foundation in the 1985 constitution stressing that it is the right of the people to petition their lawmakers on important national issues.

According to Representative Grant, the Elections Coordinating Committee’s Electoral Reform initiative is significant in helping to improve the country’s democracy and that the propositions will be given due consideration by members of the legislature.

Meanwhile, the Chairman on Public Autonomous Agency and Commissions, Sinoe county  Senator Milton Teahjay promised the Senate’s collaboration with the lower House to make changes on prepositions recommended to ensure an improved electoral system.

Senator Teahjay added that the view of Representative Grant is in place and it represents both houses stressing that it is important for members of the ECC to continue to work with the legislature in order to strengthen the country’s democracy.

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