By: E. Geedahgar Garsuah, Sr
MONROVIA: The leader of the opposition Alternative National Congress (ANC), Alexander Benedict Cummings, alias “ABC,” has expressed serious concern over the legality of holding the much- anticipated 2023 Presidential and Legislative Elections in the absence of conducting the National Population Census.
According to Cummings, holding the 2023 Elections without the conduct of the population census that should have been held since 2018 will put the entire elections in danger, thus rendering the incumbent government illegal to conduct the 2023 Presidential and Legislative elections.
According to the 1986 Constitution of Liberia, Article 80 (c, d and e) states that “Every Liberian Citizen shall have the right to be registered in a constituency, and to vote in public elections only in the constituency where registered, either in person or by absentee ballot; provided that such citizen shall have the right to change his voting constituency as may be prescribed by the Legislature.”
Article 80 (d) also indicates that “Each constituency shall have an approximately equal population of 20,000, or such number of citizens as the legislature shall prescribe in keeping with population growth and movement as revealed by a national census; provided that the total number of electoral constituencies in the Republic shall not exceed one hundred.”
And Article 80 (e) maintains that “Immediately following a national census and before the next election, the Elections Commission shall reapportion the constituencies in accordance with the new population figures so that every constituency shall have as close to the same population as possible; provided, however, that a constituency must be solely within a county.”
In the face of these major provisions of the Liberian Constitution which is the organic law of the land, the ANC Political Leader pointed out that any effort for the CDC-led government, under the leadership of former soccer icon, George Weah, not to carry out the conduct of the national population census ahead of the 2023 Presidential and Legislative Elections would be unlawful and tantamount to an egregious violation of the Constitution.
“If we don’t conduct census, the House of Representatives would be unconstitutional. If the House is unconstitutional, the Legislature would be unconstitutional. If the Legislature is unconstitutional, the government would be unconstitutional. We must conduct the census, and we must do it on time,” Mr. Cummings warned.
Cummings made known his willingness to use his contact to ask the International Community to assist the CDC-led government with the needed financial and technical backing to ensure that the national population census is conducted.
He maintained that any attempt by the government to not conduct the election will automatically place a question mark on the legitimacy of the much-anticipated 2023 elections.
Cummings Said: “Again, we can’t emphasize this enough, not conducting the census before the elections would risk the constitutional legitimacy of the elections in 2023, and its outcome. This would undermine Liberia’s peace and democracy.”
The National Population Census that should have been conducted since 2018 was initially scheduled to be held from June 19, 2022, but has been postponed to March of 2023 due to rainy season.
According to the ANC Leader, the conduct of the census should not be placed in the gallery of unimportant matters, as there would be serious consequences deriving from the constitutional legitimacy of holding the 2023 election in the absence of conducting the population census.
Touching on the prevailing living conditions of Liberians under the CDC-led government, the opposition figure noted that ordinary Liberians, on a daily basis, face barrage of life-threatening circumstances amidst the enormous natural resources that Liberia is endowed with.
Cummings also noted that one of the primary reasons for which the CDC-led government is failing on its promises and responsibilities to its citizens is the lack of honesty in the governance of the country and gross mismanagement of public funds.
He said: “I’ve said this repeatedly because it is true. What is also true is that the lack of honest leadership in government combined with the mismanagement of the resources God has blessed our country with. Liberians continue to face hardship because the current president lacks the leadership will to effect change.
The ANC political leaders has, at the same time, sounded a caveat to individuals at the helm of state power to recalibrate their thoughts if government is to make any positive impact on the lives of its people through their good deeds rather than just spewing out empty words.
Cummings: “I know that many of you don’t need me to tell you that things are bad in our country. This is because across tribes, religions and political parties, Liberians are living the sad reality of worsening economic hardships every day and everywhere in our country. From food to gas, and from hospital bill to rent; the cost of everything is going so high while incomes are going down. People can’t find jobs. In the last 5 years under President Weah, no serious investor has come to our country but they continue to pour into neighboring countries, including countries that have fought wars like us.”
According to Cummings, part of the many reasons for which the CDC-led government has not attracted any financial favor or investment from the international community is grounded on the fact that the government has not conducted its functions in a transparent and credible manner.
He disclosed that for well-intentioned investors to invest in Liberia, there should be visible signs that their investments will be protected, a situation which Cummings says, is on the contrary under the current investment climate under the CDC-led government.
The ANC leader said: “Serious and credible international investors need to trust that their investments would be protected, that a government will respect its own laws, and that a government will not be trying to steal from and cheat them.”