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

Unpaid Kurdish Fighters Sign of Economic Woes

Sharp cuts in Kurdistan's budget by Baghdad, falling oil revenue, coping with refugees, inflated public sector have hit regional economy hard More

Koreas Exchange List of Envoys for Family Reunion Talks

Officials will discuss date, venue and number of participants for reunion; Seoul hopes to hold event late this month More

China Targets 197 in Online Speech Crackdown

Nearly 200 punished for 'spreading rumors' online in ongoing crackdown on free speech 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.
Calais School Offers Another Face of Europe’s Migrant Crisisi
X
Lisa Bryant
September 02, 2015 6:19 PM
Europe is facing mounting criticism over how it’s handling its biggest migration crisis since World War II. But not all Europeans believe building walls or passing repressive policies are the answer. A school for migrants in the French port city of Calais, is opening doors and building bonds across nationalities. VOA's Lisa Bryant reports.
Video

Video Calais School Offers Another Face of Europe’s Migrant Crisis

Europe is facing mounting criticism over how it’s handling its biggest migration crisis since World War II. But not all Europeans believe building walls or passing repressive policies are the answer. A school for migrants in the French port city of Calais, is opening doors and building bonds across nationalities. VOA's Lisa Bryant reports.
Video

Video Russia-Japan Relations Cool as Putin Visits China for WWII Anniversary

Russian President Vladimir Putin is in Beijing for commemorations of the 70th anniversary of China's WWII victory over Japan. Putin is expected to visit Japan later this year, but tensions between Tokyo and Moscow over islands disputed since the war, and sanctions over Ukraine, could pour cold water on the plan. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Kurdish Fighters on IS Frontline Ready for Offensive

Finger on the trigger, the Kurdish Peshmerga soldier stared across the dust at a village taken over by Islamic State extremists. The Kurdistan’s Khazir frontline, just 45 minutes from the Islamic State stronghold of Mosul. And at this point, the militants were less than two kilometers away. VOA's Sharon Behn reports.
Video

Video Yemen ‘on Brink of Disaster’ as Medical Shortages Soar

Aid agencies warn Yemen is on the brink of humanitarian disaster – with up to half a million children facing severe malnutrition, and hospitals running out of basic medicines. There are fears Yemen's civil war could escalate as the coalition led by Saudi Arabia tries to drive back Houthi rebels, who seized control of much of the country earlier this year. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Apps Helping Kenyan Businesses Stay Ahead of Counterfeiters

Counterfeit goods in Kenya cost the government as much as $1 billion each year in lost tax revenues. The fake goods also hurt entrepreneurs who find it hard to carve out a niche in the market and retain customers. But as Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi, information technology is being used to try to beat the problem.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.

VOA Blogs