Liberian voters have rejected a raft of highly contested constitutional changes at a referendum, the electoral commission announced Wednesday. The stickiest proposed change was to shorten from 10 to five consecutive years the amount of time that presidential and vice-presidential candidates would be required to have lived in Liberia.
The existing clause was suspended in 2005 elections as most candidates had just recently returned from post-war exile. While more of those who turned out to vote in the referendum on August 23 backed the move than opposed it, by 292,318 votes to 246,473, the measure was nonetheless defeated as the ‘yes’ vote fell short of the necessary threshold of two-thirds of votes cast.
“On the basis of the (34.2 percent) turnout rate, to be validated each proposal would have to reach the barrier of 410,469 votes”, said national electoral commission vice-president Elizabeth J. Nelson, announcing the results. The three other proposals were also rejected.
“This therefore means that all the four propositions were not ratified. The Liberian people have spoken and their decision and wishes must be respected,” said Nelson.
Observers say that if the nationality change had been approved, it could have opened up the field to more opposition parties and increased President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s chances of re-election.
Full Article: AFP: Liberians vote ‘no’ to constitutional changes: official.