Liberians have rejected a referendum backed by George Weah, a former Football superstar who became President of the former colony of the United States of America.
The referendum seeks to curb the length of presidential terms — a vote that could have helped the former soccer star extend his stay in office.
The Dec. 8 plebiscite failed to achieve the two-thirds needed for the proposal to pass, National Elections Commission Chairwoman Davidetta Browne Lansanah said in a statement.
“Based on the results of the 2020 referendum, none of the eight propositions met the constitutional threshold,”
Weah, 54, became president in 2018.
His first term has been plagued by protests over high food and fuel prices, government corruption, and an economic crisis.
The release of the 2020 referendum results came after the Supreme Court mandated NEC to announce the final results of the Gbarpolu County Special Senatorial election which were stalled as a result of legal proceedings. The referendum was conducted on December 8, 2020 alongside the special senatorial election.
Eight propositions were voted for including inalienability of the citizenship of natural born Liberians or dual citizenship, Change in the date of election, Shortened time for NEC to hear complaints, and Reduction of the term of office of the President and Vice President.
Others are Reduction of the term of the Senators, Reduction of the term of office of the President Pro-Tempore, Reduction of the term of office of Representatives and Reduction of the term of office of the Speaker and Deputy Speaker.
According to NEC, inalienability of the citizenship of natural born Liberians or dual citizenship accumulated 202,017 yes votes with 190,814 no votes; change in the date of election got 212, 016 yes votes with 161, 590 no votes; shortened time for NEC to hear complaints obtained 176, 789 yes votes with 175, 347 no votes;, reduction in the term of the office of the President and Vice President accounts for 237, 501 yes votes with 200, 359 no votes; Reduction in the term of the Senators received 227, 884 yes votes with 186, 557 no votes; Reduction in the term of office of the President Pro- Tempore got 221, 236 yes votes with 182, 515 no votes; Reduction in the term of office of Representatives obtained 220, 143 yes votes with 179, 903 no votes and Reduction in the term of office of the Speaker and Deputy Speaker received 217, 325 yes votes and 182, 245 no votes.
Releasing the final referendum results Thursday, NEC Chairperson Davidetta Browne-Lansanah said none of the propositions was able to pass for possible consideration due to failure to meet the constitutional requirement of two-third votes.
Article 91 of the Liberian Constitution states that “this Constitution may be amended whenever a proposal by either (1) two-thirds of the membership of both Houses of the Legislature or (2) a petition submitted to the Legislature, by not fewer than 10,000 citizens which receives the concurrence of two thirds of the membership of both Houses of the Legislature, is ratified by two-thirds of the registered voters, voting in a referendum conducted by the Elections Commission not sooner than one year after the action of the Legislature.”
Madam Browne also quoted section 4.4 of the new elections law as saying “the fraction of two third required for approval of a question for referendum is circulated by dividing the number of valid votes cast in approval of the question by the total of the valid votes cast on the question.”
According to her, on September 20, 2011, the Supreme Court in its opinion on the challenge to the results of the referendum of 2011 held that invalid votes shall not be included in the sum of the total votes.
“Ladies and gentlemen of the press, fellow Liberians, the Commission is pleased to announce that based on the results of the 2020 referendum, none of the eight propositions met the constitutional threshold of two third,” Madam Lansanah said.