President George Weah has told members of the fifty-forth Legislature that stronger partnership between the Executive and Legislative branches was essential to improving the lives of citizens and advancing national development.
The president pointed out that it was time to review the 1986 Constitution of Liberia to further strengthen democracy and redefine some laws in the interest of all.
The Liberin leader made the remarks at the weekend at the beginning of the two-day Executive-Legislature Retreat he called mainly to deliberate on seven basic constitutional propositions he had submitted to the Legislature for action.
The intent of the Farmington retreat, he stressed, is to also reawaken the review process of the Constitution which was initiated in 2012 by his predecessor, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, who set up a six-member Constitution Review Committee (CRC).
When the CRC concluded its nationwide consultations and outreach, delegates from across the country converged for a National Constitution Conference in Gbarnga, Bong County in 2015, and agreed on 25 prepositions currently before the National Legislature for subsequent testing in a referendum.
President Weah said he now wants to accelerate the debate that will see the constitution translated into concrete action on the part of the Legislature, suggesting that the two-day roundtable talks and
brainstorming was a great start that could erase the bottlenecks.
“The constitutional review process lacks the necessary approval of the Legislature in order to advance to the referendum stage. It is my belief that this may never happen, if we do not spearhead the initiative to get this done.’
“It is for this purpose that I have invited you here to deliberate on seven of the revised propositions at this retreat. Another reason for which we are here is to appeal to you to consider legislations pending before you, because, as you know; legislation is one of the most important instruments of government organizing society and protecting its citizens in determining, among other things, rights of individuals and authorities to whom the legislation applies,” President Weah told the lawmakers.
The propositions include the amendments of Article 28 of the Constitution to provide for dual citizenship for persons who are Negros or of Negro decent; Article 45. to provide for filling
vacancies created by death, resignation, expulsion, or otherwise of Senators; Article 46 to provide for reduction in tenure of Senators of the first category to be cut to seven years, and the second category, to six years; and Article 48 which seeks to limit the term of Representatives from six to five years.
Others are to amendments of Article 49 to enable the election of a Speaker, Deputy Speaker and other officers of the House of Representatives once every five years instead of six years; while
Article 50 provides for the reduction in the tenure of the President from six to five years; and for an amendment of Article 66 to provide for the establishment of Regional intermediary Appellate Court in the country with appellate jurisdiction above circuit courts and decisions by these courts shall be final excerpts in cases where the Supreme Court has jurisdiction. The Retreat ended on Saturday, 17 August 2019.