Traditional Leaders meets with CRC on constitutional issues
Traditional Leaders meets with CRC on constitutional issues
Photo Credit: CRC

Traditional leaders from all around Liberia began their consultative meetings with the Constitution Review Committee (CRC) in Gbarnga today. The Chairperson of the CRC, Cllr. Gloria Musu-Scott was presented cola nuts and white chicken which symbolizes life and purity of heart by the Chairman of the Traditional Council of Liberia, Chief Zanzan Karwor.


Chief Karwor told the CRC that the presence of traditional leaders and elders from the 15 counties indicates that traditional leaders are delighted that the CRC has involved them in the constitution review process and they are now ready to present their views about the process and what they wish to be amended.


In response, Cllr. Gloria Musu-Scott thanked the traditional leaders and give updates on the activities of the CRC. She told them about series of meetings held with cross-sections of Liberians-the recent being the consultative meetings with political parties and civil society organizations in Grand Bassa County and Margibi County.


She informed the traditional leaders that the CRC is currently training civic educators to go to the counties to train others for awareness on the mandate of the CRC and what is expected of citizens during the review of their constitution. She also told them of various radio programs and the enthusiasm of Liberians to make their inputs to the review process. Cllr. Scott told the gathering of traditional leaders that the CRC would listen will listen to all views which would be collated to form part of the general views that would be submitted to the national conference and subsequently to the national legislature.


For his part, the Chairman on Civic Society Organizations, Hon. Soko V. Sackor said the chieftaincy, which covers the chiefdoms, clan, general towns, town quarters and household is the single largest unit with direct relationship with traditional leaders who make up 70% of the population.


He said there are 235 chiefdoms throughout the country. This means every time you think of governance, the first thought should be the governance of the chiefdom and its sub units. There have been questions on what Government can constitutionally do to satisfy governance of the chiefdom. Hon. Sackor pointed out that this question or challenge has been passed on to the Constitution Review Committee. 


The CRC Sub-committee Chairman went on further to say that to satisfy a portion of the CRC Mandate to ensure that the constitution is in conformity with post conflict Liberia, the CRC has got permission from old people, young people, men and women to invite the chiefs and elders of Liberia in order to hang heads with them and to learn from them personally and collectively about the constitution.


He hopes that the forum would achieve experts inputs on issues and best practices concerning chieftaincy; obtain traditional leaders views and opinions on the constitution; populate their views as part of the general views gathered by CRC and from other Liberians and explain the role of traditional leaders in the review process among others.


The Keynote speaker, Cllr.Yarsuo Weh Dorliae, who deputized for Dr. Amos Claudius Sawyer, said the thinking of many persons in Liberia is that since the law was made in 1986 many things have changed-for example, the civil war. He said the civil war was a result of many things. Cllr. Dorliae told traditional leaders that the war did not cause problem in our country; it is the problem in our country that caused the civil war. He said many people who know about government in many countries have attributed the problem to the way our government is organized.  


The Governance Commission legal expert drew the attention of participants to the facts “that all the power, all the tax money, all the development decisions are made in Monrovia. He says this is one of the reasons why many of our citizens want us to change some things in the law.” He unfolded the decentralization plan to traditional leaders and said a local government Act is drafted and if approved, it will replace the Hinterland Regulations and Revised Rules and Regulations for Local Government in Liberia.


Giving remarks, Honorable George Mulbah appreciated the CRC for the forum but beg to differ from those who are opposed to whites becoming citizens in Liberia. He said Liberia has signed and ratified several international instruments against racism and as such, the continuation of a racist provision in the Liberian constitution violates those instruments. He wants an “all race” provision that would make whites citizens of Liberia.


The participants gave Hon. Mulbah applauses for his bold assertion that the tenure of President, Vice President, Senators and Representatives are too long. He stated his support reduction in the tenures from six years for the president, vice president and representatives to four years and the senators from 9 years to six years.


Also making remarks was the South African Ambassador, His Excellency Masilo E. Mabeta who thanked the CRC for providing him the opportunity to celebrate Nelson Mandela’s death and also to commend the constitutional reform process. He said he cannot think of any debate that is more important than what is taking place in Liberia regarding the review of the constitution.


Ambassador Mabeta told the chiefs that no matter how beautiful their streets can be or whether they come from rivers, creeks and mountains, this reform process is about themselves and their land. He said this debate is important for them and for them to say the constitution is theirs. “This debate must reflect the problem that affects you and your culture,” he concluded.


Other speakers were Senator Amah Jallah of Gbarpolu County, and the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr. Marcus Dahn. They thanked the CRC for such a forum that brought traditional leaders and elders together from around Liberia.