Robertsport – People of Grand Cape Mount County want the National Elections Commission to postpone and hold the referendum voting at another time because they are not ready to vote. They expressed lack of knowledge and awareness on what the referendum is about and what it means for their everyday life.
Report By: Jenneh Kemokai, LMD Election Reporting Fellow
According to the County Peace Committee Chairman, Mr. Zuana Kapka, there is a significant information gap in the county among the citizens on what the referendum means and what they should vote on. He accused the National Elections Commission of rushing the voters to go to referendum without proper education on the propositions to amend the constitutions.
Musu Manoba, who identified herself as a market woman, said that many of the women she works with do not understand anything when it comes to the referendum symbol, and they agree that it should be put to another date for voting, after NEC completed the educational process.
Mount Boakai Sonii, a youth leader in Grand Cape, agreed with the others. He added that the rushing of the vote on the constitution amendments is in the interests of the legislators, and for this reason he said on election day he will only vote for the senatorial candidates, but not for the referendum propositions.
The referendum proposes to amend article 45 of the Constitution so that the term in office for senators is reduced from nine years to seven years; followed by the representatives’ tenure from six years to five years and the president’s from six years to five years, therefore the people’s refusal to vote in the referendum may end up helping the politicians to stay longer in office.
The citizens’ views were expressed at a one day Community Media Forum that was held in Sinje Town, Garwul District Grand Cape Mount County organized by Internews Liberia, with funding from the United States Agency for International Development, also known as USAID. Internews, an international nonprofit organization, that works with citizens and local media in more than 100 countries.
Together with local partners, Internews helps provide people worldwide with the trustworthy, high-quality news and information they need to make informed decisions, participate in their communities, and hold power to account.
Salamatu Turay, a Liberian voter, made time to participate at the forum. She said that “the referendum should be postponed because we the common people don’t understand anything about it, we need more awareness before we can go into it or else, on election day I will just go and vote for the person I want and I will not touch the referendum parts because I don’t know anything and [I] am not the only one.”
The forum brought together over 100 participants from Grand Cape Mount County.
The National Elections Commission will be holding the senatorial and referendum elections on December 8 and voters are going to be asked to give their vote on three constitutional amendment propositions.
Besides voting on reducing the term in office for elected officials, the referendum also asks voters’ decision on legalizing dual citizenship for Liberian citizens. This means that a Liberian citizen can acquire the citizenship of a foreign country without losing the Liberian citizenship.
And the final and third amendment to the Constitution asks voters to agree on changing the date for presidential elections from November, which is the rainy season, to October, when it is still dry season and more people can vote.