Liberian opposition parties call for referendum boycott
Liberia’s leading opposition party has called for a comprehensive boycott of the national constitution referendum set for 23 August 2011.
The Congress for Democratic Change (CDC) made the declaration on Monday after the official announcement of the date of the referendum, which falls just ahead of the presidential polls in October this year.
Party officials said they have filed a 12-count petition with a civil law court hoping for an injunction to be issued to the National Elections Commission to stop it from organising the referendum.
Footballer-turned-politician George Weah is the founder of the CDC and is presently the running mate to Winston Tubman, the party’s presidential candidate.
“The referendum will not ensure a level-playing field for the opposition parties if allowed to go on,” said Simeon Freeman, the leader of the Movement for Progressive Change.
Among the things the referendum seeks to ratify is an amendment to Liberia’s constitution to the effect that changing an aspect of the constitution relating to elections would no longer require a two-thirds majority of the bicameral legislature.
If voted and passed, the amended constitution will give the electoral commission the mandate to suspend the electoral campaign in order to announce the results of the referendum.
“This could put the opposition political parties in a disadvantaged position,” the opposition’s lawyers have argued.
There are about 1.5 million voters who will be choosing from among 25 potential and declared presidential candidates.
During the last presidential election in 2005, Mr Weah made an impressive showing when he forced a run-off with the eventual winner, President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf.