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

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said To Be Improving

Experimental drugs have been tried on six people: three Westerners and now, three African pyhysicians More

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities residents rebuild their lives, but many say everyone is being treated with suspicion More

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

Girls learn to object; FGM practitioners face penalties from jail sentences to stiff fines 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.
Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improvingi
X
Carol Pearson
August 19, 2014 11:43 PM
The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improving

The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As the Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities from pro-Russian separatists, residents are getting a chance to rebuild their lives. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the town of Kramatorsk in Donetsk province, where a sense of fear is still in the air, and distrust of the government in Kyiv still runs deep.
Video

Video China Targets Overseas Assets of Corrupt Officials

As China presses forward with its anti-graft effort, authorities are targeting corrupt officials who have sent family members and assets overseas. The efforts have stirred up a debate at home on exactly how many officials take that route and how likely it is they will be caught. Rebecca Valli has this report.
Video

Video Leading The Fight Against Islamic State, Kurds Question Iraqi Future

Western countries including the United States have begun arming the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in northern Iraq to aid their battle against extremist Sunni militants from the Islamic State. But there are concerns that a heavily-armed Kurdistan Regional Government, or KRG, might seek to declare independence and cause the break-up of the Iraqi state. As Henry Ridgwell reports from London, the KRG says it will only seek greater autonomy from Baghdad.
Video

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

In some Kenyan communities, female genital mutilation remains a rite of passage. But activists are pushing back, with education for girls and with threats of punishment those who perform the circumcision. Mohammed Yusuf looks at the practice in the rural eastern community of Tharaka-Nithi.
Video

Video For Obama, Racial Violence is Personal Issue

The racial violence in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson is presenting U.S. President Barack Obama with an issue to which he has a deep personal connection. To many Americans, Obama's election as America's first black president marked a turning point in race relations in the United States, and Obama has made ending the violence a policy priority. On Monday he issued a new call for calm and understanding. Luis Ramirez reports from the White House.
Video

Video Clinton-Obama Relationship Could Impact 2016 Election

President Barack Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have a long and complicated relationship. That relationship took another turn recently when Clinton criticized the president’s foreign policy. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports there is renewed attention on the Clinton-Obama relationship as Hillary Clinton considers running for
Video

Video Iran Looks to Maintain Influence in Baghdad With New Shia PM

Washington and Tehran share the goal of stopping Syrian-based militants in Iraq. But experts say it's Iran, not the United States, that will most influence how the new government in Baghdad approaches internal reforms and the war in Syria. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns has the story.

AppleAndroid