George Weah Fails to Win Extra Time in Liberia Referendum
Touchaheart Nigeria reports that Liberians rejected a referendum backed by President George Weah to curb the length of presidential terms.
A vote that could have helped him 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,” Browne said in a statement emailed from the capital, Monrovia, on Friday.
The defeat is the latest in a series of setbacks suffered by Weah, 54, since the ex-AC Milan striker became president in 2018.
Weah’s first term has been plagued by protests over high food and fuel prices, government corruption, and an economic crisis.
Liberia’s economy is struggling to recover from a devastating 2014-16 Ebola outbreak and a sharp drop in iron-ore prices after the Covid-19 pandemic began last year.
The International Monetary Fund predicts the West African nation’s economy will grow 3.2% in 2021, after contracting for the past two years.
“Weah’s record was on the ballot,” said Ibrahim Nyei, a political analyst and doctoral student at the University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies. “The president campaigned for the referendum and the result does reflect on Weah’s politics.”
The proposed changes to Liberia’s 1986 constitution included reducing the presidential term limit from six to five years, renewable twice.
It also sought to shorten the time senators can serve in office to seven years from nine.
Opposition leaders including Abraham Darius Dillon said the referendum was an attempt by Weah to seek re-election for two five-year terms, after his current two six-year terms are up.
Weah and his government said they were seeking constitutional reform and that he had no desire to extend stay in office.
Another high-stake issue in the referendum was the question of dual citizenship.
The large Liberian diaspora, who fled the country’s 1999-2003 civil war and has been an important voice in Liberian politics, has been advocating to obtain Liberian citizenship while maintaining their current nationality.