Monrovia — The Rainbow Alliance (RA) comprising the largest group of registered political parties in Liberia has been granted authorization by the National Elections Commission (NEC) to operate as a single political institution pending the certification process.
The authorization is contained in a letter dated July 30, 2020, signed by the Chairperson of the NEC, Hon. Davidetta Browne Lansanah, which states: ‘Following verification of the application by the Political Affairs Section, The National Elections Commission (NEC) certify that the proposed Rainbow Alliance has met the requirements of Chapter 8, Section 8.5 of the New Elections Law of Liberia, Section 4.2 of NEC’s Revised Guidelines, and is therefore authorized’ to establish a national headquarters and comply with other regulations as required by Article 79 (c) count (1) of the constitution of Liberia.
The general public is hereby assured of the commitment of the Rainbow Alliance to work for meaningful changes in the governance structure of Liberia and the livelihood of ordinary Liberians.
In this light, the Rainbow Alliance serves notice that it will immediately commence constructive engagement with all sectors of the Liberian public and our foreign friends to ensure that there will be no further breach of the Liberian constitution as we move closer to two significant electoral cycles, the up-coming December 8 2020 mid-term senatorial elections/referendum and the 2023 presidential and legislative elections.
The official Gazette of the pending 2020 Referendum is in gross violation of Article 92 of the 1986 Constitution of the Republic of Liberia. Article 92 states “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”.
Proposition 1 (Article 28), Proposition 2 Article 45, 47, 48, 49 and 50 are multiple measures that cannot be collapsed to be addressed under a single ballot. Similarly, it is a violation of Article 92 to treat Article 83(a) &(c) as a single measure for amendment. Article 83(a) of the constitution says: voting for the president, vice president, members of the Senate and members of the House of Representatives shall be conducted throughout the Republic on the second Tuesday in October of each election year.
The Rainbow Alliance also notes that Article 4 Section 4.3 of the New Elections Law states, “the Ballot for a question in a referendum shall show the question or proposal to be voted on as set by the Constitution or by Law, and may also show a simple explanation of the question or proposal, as determined by the Commission”.
The measures as contained in the Gazette on the National Referendum 2020 presents complexity for our population, especially for those in difficult to reach sections of the country, and this is even being exacerbated by low or none voters’ education on the issues to be voted upon in the referendum.
The justification of Proposition 1 (Article 28) as contained in the Gazette is sadly biased, selfish, and insensitive to the long standing issues of economic exclusion of underprivileged Liberians’ active ownership of the economy. The Referendum favors the political elites as can be exemplified in the protection of jobs than the economic survival of the Liberian people.
On the issue of dual citizenship, Proposition 1 (Article 28) is deeply flawed, draconian and opens the possibility of loopholes and fraud in the assumption of Liberian citizenship, given the recent incident of Cllr. A. Ndubusi Nwabudike who was caught falsifying Liberian citizenship documents.
Article 28 of the 1986 Constitution gives a child at least one of whose parents was a Liberian citizen at birth the right to choose his citizenship upon reaching a matured age; whereas the proposed amendment takes away the right and decision from that child and makes it compulsory to become a Liberian citizenship even prior to their birth. If this amendment were allowed to stand, it could open a floodgate of fake Liberian citizens infiltrating the system.
The Rainbow Alliance therefore gives notice that it will vigorously campaign for a NO VOTE in the Referendum for Dual Citizenship.
Mid-term Senatorial and By-elections:
The Rainbow Alliance is greatly troubled by what seems to be a foregone conclusion to hold three distinct elections together on the same day: Midterm Senatorial Elections, Referendum and Bi-elections. Such situation will obviously present difficulties for the voting population, many of whom are illiterate, and could serve as a serious recipe for the negative outcome of the elections, mass confusiiion and possibly electoral violence.
On October 4, 2019, President George M. Weah approved a Joint Resolution of the Senate and House of Representatives of the 54th Legislature proposing a Constitutional Referendum to amend Articles 28, 45, 47, 48, 49, 50 and 83 (a) and (c) of the 1986 Constitution.
The forthcoming Senatorial Midterm Election is naturally covered by the Constitution of Liberia, while the proposed Referendum was conceived to amend the constitution on key issues such as dual citizenship, tenure of the president and members of the National Legislature and changing the date of the election from October to November.
As a major stakeholder in the electoral process, the Rainbow Alliance’s attention has been drawn to the following violations of the Constitution, Election Laws and regulations.
According to the Timetable released by the National Elections Commission, the official launch of Referendum Outreach and Media Campaign is October 16, 2020. Hence, the publication and display of awareness materials carrying the image of the President of Liberia campaigning for the Referendum far ahead of the NEC timetable is a gross violation of the Laws governing the electoral process.
Meanwhile, the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) is openly campaigning for the senatorial elections across the country with the distribution of rice and cash inducement. It is also provoking violence against its opponents as the case with the recent attack against Representative Yeke Koluba and CPP Chairman, Alexander Cummings.
Referendum Campaign should begin only when the parties “for and against” the Referendum Proposition(s) shall have been accredited by the NEC. We note that pre-campaigning creates un-level playing field for stakeholders, again, creating the prospect for electoral violence, and could serve as potential build up for explosive incidents in the 2020 and 2023 elections if not checked. We call on all parties to put an immediate halt to all pre-election, pre-referendum campaigns and all campaign materials taken down.
The Rainbow Alliance is confident that the National Elections Commission is aware of these breaches to the constitution and elections laws and will move rapidly to remedy the situation under the law and under the Inter-party Consultative Committee framework.
In view of the foregoing, the Rainbow Alliance calls for the Official Gazette of Referendum 2020 to be revoked and re-considered owing to its unconstitutionality and that all spending on Referendum related activities be withheld until conditions outlined in this Statement are adequately addressed.
Additionally, the Rainbow Alliance is committed to work with NEC through the IPCC framework to protect the fairness of the electoral process and ensure all political parties adhere to the regulations and guidelines of the New Elections Law and the Constitution of the Republic of Liberia.