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Liberian Constitutional Conference Approves ‘Christian Nation’ Recommendation

FILE - Gloria Scott of Liberia.
FILE - Gloria Scott of Liberia.

A four-day long National Constitutional Review Conference ended Thursday in the central Liberian city of Gbarnga with a recommendation to make Liberia a "Christian nation."

Counselor Gloria Musu-Scott, chairperson of the Constitution Review Committee, said Muslim groups led by the Liberia Muslim Organization lobbied unsuccessfully for Liberia to remain a secular nation on the grounds that the proposed amendment is discriminatory.

The committee, charged with reviewing the country’s 1986 constitution, had been soliciting suggestions from the public for possible amendments, including the terms of office for the President, Vice President, legislators and justices, as well as superintendents of the country’s 15 political subdivisions.

Scott said the process accorded Liberians the opportunity to be part of the remaking of their constitution.

She said the delegates approved most of the recommendations.

“One of them was natural resources rights and that whatever income comes from the natural resources should benefit the people directly. The second thing that was approved was that the traditional leaders, the elders, the tribal people should have the right to own the land of their ancestors,” she said.

Going into the conference, Liberian women had argued for equal representation in “all elected, selected or appointed positions in both [the] public and private sector.”

Scott said the delegates approved putting in the constitution equal representation for women.

“Under the appointing authority of the president, the president should ensure that no one gender is less than 40 or more than 60, in terms of total number of persons appointed,” Scott said.

She said the proposal to reduce the terms of office for the President, Vice President and members of the legislature received overwhelming support.

“It was a consensus that the number of years for the president, vice president, the senators and representatives should serve should be reduced,” Scott said.

Under the current constitution, the president and vice president serve six-year terms, senators serve for nine years and members of the House of Representatives six years.

Scott said the delegates also approved that superintendents of Liberia’s 15 political subdivisions and district commissioners be elected as well as chiefs, but according to their traditional protocol and procedures.

The conference recommendations will be submitted to President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf who would then send them to the national legislature for its approval before being put to a referendum a year or so after.

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