The Intent to Deny Many Liberians to Run for President: A Rejoinder to Misinterpreting the Intent of the Framers of the Liberian Constitution

By Dr. Leon Q. Ledlum

The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia

February 4, 2003

Fellow Liberians, let us all join this very important debate on the aforementioned topic, which to my view, involves everyone of us, regardless of our status. I am one of the many Liberians who are in sympathy with annulling sub-section ( c ) of CLAUSE 52 of our current Constitution, which has the intent to deny many Liberians from part-taking in the body politics of our beloved nation. What does CLAUSE 52 say?

The 1986 Constitution of the Republic of Liberia says in CLAUSE 52:

"No person shall be eligible to hold the office of President or Vice-President, unless that person is: a. a natural born citizen of not less than 35 years of age:

b. the owner of unencumbered real property value at not less than twenty-five thousand dollars; and

c. resident in the Republic ten years prior to his election, provided the President and the Vice-President shall not come from the same County.

My heart goes out to the many sincere Liberians who are nationally conscientious and, therefore, have taken the fight to the international arena for the world to hear this case. My sincere wish is for them to win the day. What I am revolting against with this debate has to do with the personality of the former Hon. Senator for Montserrado, Mr. Archie Bernard, who happened to have also been the Hon Secretary General for the erstwhile Constitutional Advisory Assembly in Gbarnga, Bong County, Republic of Liberia.

Fellow Liberians, let us be very mindful of those days when the stage was set by people like Archie Bernard to use mischief, to attain their intended objective which was to attain power at all cost. Individuals like Archie Bernard were main players of the "making-over" of Doe as a civilian President, in spite of the nation's desire to end the military from part-taking in Liberia's politics, because of their personal desires for national power.

Mr. Archie Bernard was the Secretary General at Constitutional Advisory Assembly and was a major player in constructing the version of the Liberian Constitution that gave the military what it wanted. He cannot in this after the fact period, come to tell us Liberians what "they the framers had intended". Their intent was expressed in Clause 52, sub-section ( c ). He and his cohorts were well paid for their "JOB WELL DONE". Archie's pay came in the form of SENATORIAL SEAT FOR MONTSERRADO COUNTY. If the former Hon Senator of Montserrado County wants Liberians to deem him credible, let him come forth in all honesty to tell us the TRUTH.

1. The actual vote count he received during the 1985 elections.

2. How come the draft constitution called for a 4-year term and their's became 6-years.

3. How come in the Sawyer's draft the age for the Liberian President was more than 35 and their's is 35 years.

As painful and malicious that TEN YEAR CLAUSE is, we must not allow the architects of it, use their influence to undo it with the sole purpose of gaining from so doing. If it can be challenged through the legal means, let it be done. The usual Liberian culture of rushing to accept wrong doers only because they advance our views and wishes, without holding them accountable for the creating the problem in the first place, is one of the root causes of our virtually unending circle of violence, and we aught to resist its continuance.

Hon Archie Bernard, during my formative school days I learned that one's grade for any school assignment is based on what he/she writes on paper, and not on what he/she intended. One's intention is thus, judged on written material and not hindsight. The Honorable Senator is being cunningly disingenuous in his attempt to undo this Constitutional provision. Were he still in power, I have no doubt, Hon. Bernard would be in the fore front defending this shady clause to the delight of his former Master, Samuel Doe, and for the sole purpose of perpetuating his presence in the senate, knowing he was not elected by the people, but appointed by Doe.

Be not deceived Liberians, the Honorable is looking for recognition and sympathy, and for us to think he is out there to clarify a constitutional mishap, is very misplaced. The TEN YEAR CLAUSE was no mishap, but a calculated ploy to achieve unto oneself what he/she would not have attained without it.

Mr. Honourable Archie Bernard, I hope you know this line: YOU TOO LATE, YOU LOST YOUR CHANCE!