News / Africa

Residency Requirement Change Could Reshape Liberian Presidential Race

Liberia's President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf (file)
Liberia's President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf (file)

Liberia's electoral commission is asking voters to change the residency requirement for presidential candidates.  That would present more challengers to President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf in the scheduled October election.

Liberia's national electoral commission is asking voters to lower the residency requirement for presidential candidates from 10 years to five years.

Elections commission spokesman Bobby Livingstone says the referendum gives Liberian voters the chance to decide for themselves who is eligible to lead them.

"We are putting in the basic operational plan, all of the different preparations for awareness, our strategy, and how we intend to translate the whole message of people voting for issues rather than voting for candidates," said Livingstone.

If passed, the shorter residency requirement would open the race against President Sirleaf to candidates who are blocked by the 10-year requirement, including former Justice Minister Winston Tubman, who is the nominee of the leading opposition party, and his running mate, former football star and the second-place finisher in the last election George Weah.

National Electoral Commission Chairman James Fromoyan says the change would significantly expand the presidential field.

"If you were to apply it, it would hold true for George Weah, Charles Brumskine, Winston Tubman, Nathaniel Barnes, you name it," said Fromoyan.  "Those who are aspiring to be president, how many of them would be able to contend that they have been here 10 years?"

Another candidate hoping for a change in the residency requirement is Reverend Kennedy Sandy, who launched his campaign in December promising to decentralize power and fight corruption.

Much of Sandy's support comes from younger voters.  If the residency requirement stands and Sandy is not allowed to run, university student Beatrice Nappy believes former rebel leader Prince Johnson would benefit most.

"Most of the young people in Liberia prefer Reverend Kennedy because he has a vision for the young people," said Nappy.  "But if he is affected by the five- or ten-years residency clause, I strongly believe that most of the young people will have no other alternative but to support former warlord Prince Johnson. Most of the ex-combatants believe in Prince Johnson.  They see him as their Messiah.  Therefore, he should not be taken lightly in the election."

Former combatant Jerry Tah voted for George Weah in the last election.  This time he is voting for Prince Johnson.

"Since we heard that our former rebel leader is getting into the race, a number of us have resolved to throw our weight behind him," noted Tah.  "We think he can better protect us and care for us as combatants.  People call us all kinds of names like 'criminals,' 'killers,' and etcetera.  But we believe that when Prince Johnson is elected, he will protect us."

The referendum on the rule change is scheduled for August, which would give newly-qualified candidates just seven weeks to campaign before the presidential election.  But the referendum also includes a provision to push back that election from October to November.

You May Like

Ebola Death Toll Nears 5,000 as Virus Advances

West Africa bears heaviest burden; Mali toddler’s death raises new fears More

Jordan’s Battle With Islamic State Militants Carries Domestic Risks

Despite Western concerns that IS militants are preparing a Jordanian offensive, analysts call the kingdom's solid intel a strong deterrent More

Asian-Americans Assume Office in Record Numbers

Steadily deepening engagement in local politics pays off for politicians like Chinese-American Judy Chu More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Comanche Chief Quanah Parker’s Century-Old House Falling Apart

One of the most fascinating people in U.S. history was Quanah Parker, the last chief of the American Indian tribe, the Comanche. He was the son of a Comanche warrior and a white woman who had been captured by the Indians. Parker was a fierce warrior until 1875 when he led his people to Fort Sill, Oklahoma, and took on a new, peaceful life. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Cache, Oklahoma, Quanah’s image remains strong among his people, but part of his heritage is in danger of disappearing.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid