President Ellen Johnson Submits Constitution Act to Senate


President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has submitted an act establishing a constitution review commission to the plenary of the Liberian Senate for enactment.
Source: FrontPage Africa

The act is being sponsored by Maryland County senator John Ballout.

According to the act there is a need to review the Liberian Constitution that was  promulgated in 1986 to serve both as an instrument for existing military rule and as the basis for establishing and operating a system of democratic governance, succeeding the earlier constitution of the  country that was adopted in 1847.

The review commission will strengthen the constitution democratic objective and enhance the principles of good governance that are consistent with the country’s common aspirations and national ambitions.

According to the act submitted to the Liberian senate, constitutional review is necessary as a result of changed circumstances, and national experience gained over more than two and one- half decades since the constitution of 1986 came into effect.

When passed the commission will take into consideration the review of the Jury system, Executive and Legislative terms of office, Citizenship, prescriptions for formation and functioning of political parties and the decentralization.

It can be recalled that in 2007 a constitution review task force (‘The Task Force”) to provide a path to amending the constitution was established but regrettably for  logistical, management  budgetary, size, and  other reasons the task force did not become  operational sufficient to execute its functions.

Though, the 2007 Task force has provided valuable lessons for the establishment of the constitution review commission, it will begin from where the Task force ended.

The act also states that to avoid the factors which led to the failure of the previous constitution review Task Force, which is dissolved, a constitution review commission which shall be supported by a secretariat linked to the Law reform commission and to the Governance commission, consist of fewer members, and operate at a lower cost.

The constitution commission will examine constructively the constitution of Liberia and lead a process that will produce appropriate constitutional amendments. The commission will organize and guide the process of constitutional review, It review and amendment will be designed by the constitution to be a deliberative process.

The Commission, according to the act shall involve the formulation of policy, drafting of enactment of legislation which must be passed by two-thirds vote in each House of the Legislature and approval by the electorate through referendum. For the implementation of each of the above adequate opportunity must be provided for public discourse.

Article two of the act said the commission shall arrange public discourse and debates on provisions of the constitution with a view to update the constitution and ensuring its conformity with Liberia’s post-conflict democratic realities and aspirations and craft proposals for amending the constitution. Draft pieces of legislation for enactment and ensure adequate public participation in related public and legislative hearings.

It will also consider as appropriate, among other matters; national policies such as the  national policy on decentralization and local Governance, the  establishment  of  positions of  principal administrative  officers and other public sector reform which have  become policies, but can only be fully implemented through constitutional amendment.

The act further stated that the commission will review the constitution to identify other provisions such as the tenure of legislators and of the President and the Vice President to determine whether they require amendment, and it shall ensure the conduct of a referendum by the National elections commission on proposal for amending the constitution of the Republic of Liberia.

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