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

    Candidates' Comments Fly Like New Hampshire Snowflakes

    Four days ahead of the country's first-in-the-nation Republican and Democratic party primary elections, surveys show the parties' contests tightening

    Australian Commander: IS Changing Tactics

    Head of Australian forces in Middle East talks with VOA about training Iraqi troops, countering evolving Islamic State efforts and defeating extremism

    UN Calls for Global Ban on Female Genital Mutilation

    Recent UNICEF report finds at least 200 million girls and women alive today have undergone female genital mutilation in 30 countries

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

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibiti
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 05, 2016 4:30 PM
    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video Former Drug CEO Martin Shkreli Angers US Lawmakers

    A former U.S. pharmaceutical business executive has angered lawmakers by refusing to explain why he raised the price of a life-saving pill by 5,000 percent. Martin Shkreli was removed from a congressional hearing on Thursday after citing his Fifth Amendment right to stay silent. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Super Bowl TV Commercials are Super Business for Advertisers

    The Super Bowl, the championship clash between the two top teams in American Football, is the most-watched sporting event of the year, and advertisers are lining up and paying big bucks to get their commercials on the air. In fact, the TV commercials during the Super Bowl have become one of the most anticipated and popular features of the event. VOA's Brian Allen has a sneak peek of what you can expect to see when the big game goes to commercial break, and the real entertainment begins.
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Solar Innovation Provides Cheap, Clean Energy to Kenya Residents

    In Kenya, a company called M-Kopa Solar is providing clean energy to more than 300,000 homes across East Africa by allowing customers to "pay-as-you-go" via their cell phones. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from Kangemi, customers pay a small deposit for a solar unit and then pay less than a dollar a day to get clean energy to light up their homes or businesses.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Apprenticeships Put Americans on Path Back to Work

    Trying to get more people into the U.S. workforce, the Obama administration last year announced $175 million in grants towards apprenticeship programs. VOA White House correspondent Aru Pande went inside one training center outside of Washington that has gained national recognition for helping put people on the path to employment.
    Video

    Video New Material May Reduce Concussion Effects

    As the 2016 National Football League season reaches its summit at the Super Bowl this coming Sunday (2/7), scientists are trying to learn how to more effectively protect football players from dangerous and damaging concussions. Researchers at Cardiff and Cambridge Universities say their origami-based material may solve the problem. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Saudi Arabian Women's Sports Chip Away at Stereotypes

    Saudi Arabian female athletes say that sports are on the front line of busting traditions that quash women’s voices, both locally and internationally. In their hometown of Jeddah, a group of basketball players say that by connecting sports to health issues, they are encouraging women and girls to get out of their homes and participate in public life. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
    Video

    Video A Year Later, Fortunes Mixed for Syrians Forging New Lives in Berlin

    In April of last year, VOA followed the progress of six young Syrian refugees -- four brothers and their two friends -- as they made their way from Libya to Italy by boat, and eventually to Germany. Reporter Henry Ridgwell caught up with the refugees again in Berlin, as they struggle to forge new lives amid the turmoil of Europe's refugee crisis.
    Video

    Video Zika Virus May be Hard to Stop

    With the Zika virus spreading rapidly, the World Health Organization Monday declared Zika a global health emergency. As Alberto Pimienta reports, for many governments and experts, the worst is yet to come.