MONROVIA: Amidst few more days to the pending December 8 Special Senatorial elections and National Referendum,the Minister for State and Presidential Affairs, Nathaniel F. McGill, has rallied the support of local Chiefs and Elders across Liberia to ensure a “Yes vote” for all the eight propositions of the National Referendum.
…McGill Rallies Traditional Leaders’ SupportFor Referendum
Speaking on Monday on State Radio, ELBC, which was also broadcast by other local FM stations around the country, Minister McGill also urged the local leaders in the various counties to embark on a rigorous campaign, sensitizing the citizenry about the importance of the Referendum and the “Yes Vote”.
He added that a “Yes vote” will not only signal a victory for the Liberian nation but will also serve as a step to further strengthen and consolidate Liberia’s fragile democracy in the sub-region. Minister McGill who is also Chief of Staff in the office of Liberian President, George Manneh Weah, questioned why opposition politicians continuous to frown on the holding of the December 8Elections and the Referendum when the exercises are in the best interest of the country.
“The debate now is for Liberians to go and vote for the reduction of the tenures for President, Senators and Representatives; we need to stop these greedy politicians who want to be president for six years and those who are also seeking for nine years at the senate,” he declared.
Minister McGill also viewed the National Referendum as a ‘moral victory’ for the erstwhile Constitution Review Committee,then, headed by former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Liberia, Gloria Musu Scott.
He stressed that any attempt to postpone the December 8 Referendum will be a slap in the face of the millions of donor funding provided the Liberian nation for the exercise.
Quizzed about government’s effort to reach out to ordinary citizens, the State and Presidential Affairs Minister noted that key opposition leaders including the Chairman of the Collaborating Political Parties (CPP) Alexander Benedict Cummings, have been engaged as well as local leaders. He further asserted that those supporting the conduct of the December 8 Referendum are true patriots who love Liberia and those opposing the holding of the referendum this year want Liberia lagged behind in democracy and development. At the moment, the few of the argumentative propositions of the Referendum include the change of the president tenure from six years to five, the tenure a senator from nine years to seven, and the tenure of representatives from six years to five, while elections date should be changed from the 2nd Tuesday in October to the 2nd Tuesday in November as well as advancing the dual citizenship debate in the affirmative.
On the tenure of the Presidency, Minister McGill clarified that President Weah has no intention to contest for a third term after the amendment of Article 50 of the Constitution. “You can take this to the bank; this President will not contest for third term. In fact, that news as it was reported in some quarters is false and misleading,” he emphasized. Meanwhile, some Liberians phoning in on the program expressed concern over the limited time allotted for civic education on the eight propositions.The citizens said during the radio talk-show opined that the expectation of the Minister for a ‘Yes’ vote for all of the referendum propositions will face serious difficulty.
While others assured that they will accept the Minister’s plea, others indicated that scores of Liberians, particularly in the rural arrears are unaware of the Referendum process. “Yea, thank you Daniel, I am phoning in from Logan Town, let me inform the Minister that there is nothing to vote ‘Yes’ for in that Referendum; how can I vote for something that I don’t know about, trust me, I will vote ‘No’ to all,” one of the callers said. But, some top government officials including Monrovia City Mayor Jefferson Koijee who phone in lauded Minister McGill for the debate on the Referendum, saying that the move is in the interest of the country.
Mayor Koijee added that the government has also empowered Liberia’s Cultural Ambassador, Julie Endee, and local community radio stations across the country to spread referendum messages.
However, since Minister McGill launched the “vote yes “Referendum campaign about two weeks now, Liberians are heavily participating in discussion of the crucial electoral exercises through the local media.