Postponed Census Wrong, Unacceptable -Says Cummings; Envisages That It Threatens Constitutionality Of The Entire Gov’t; As Well As House Of Reps’ Composition After Elections.
The reasons advanced by the government for the postponement of the long expected census has been chided by political opposition leader of the Alternative National Congress (ANC), Mr. Alexander B. Cummings who intoned that without conducting the long-overdue census, “we risk the members of the House of Representatives continuing to represent land areas and not the people, as mandated by the Constitution”.
This risk, Cummings pointed out, will extend to calling into question the constitutionality of the elections in 2023, as well as the constitutionality of the composition of the House of Representatives after the elections. This threatens the constitutionality of the entire government. We must avoid such dangerous scenario which will have consequences for Liberia’s peace, security and democracy.
In a special statement released about the postponement of the census Cummings added that the conduct of “our National Census is essential to knowing the economic, social and political status of our country for development purposes. Without such crucial data, we are left at the mercy of knee-jerk presidential projects that are politically motivated. This is wrong and unacceptable.”
Therefore, we will consult with our lawyers on the possible legal recourse available to compel the conduct of the National Housing and Population Census, as required by the Liberian Constitution, in a timely manner.
At the same time, we call on local civil society groups, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the African Union, the United Nations, the European Union, and the Government of the United States to engage with the Weah-led Government on the timely conduct of the census. We also request their technical and other support, where required, to achieve this important national undertaking for our country.
“Liberia Deserves Better”, Cummings indicated.
Meanwhile, The Fifth National Census has again been postponed from its June 19th date to next year. Repeatedly, under President George Weah, the conduct of the National Housing and Population Census continues to be postponed with the last postponement being from March to June 19.
The latest postponement from June 19 to next year March is being blamed on the rainy season. Previous postponements were due to several reasons from COVID to lack of funding by this administration. This is ridiculous. If these postponements did not represent a danger to our republican form of government and the development of our nation, it would be laughable.
The conduct of the National Housing and Population Census is not a trivial requirement which can be set aside without consequences for both the constitutional legitimacy of the elections and the fullness of constitutional authority to govern.
The Liberian Constitution mandates the conduct of a census every 10 years. Since 2018, the Weah government should have conducted a census. Unfortunately, they have not and it appears, have no intentions to do so.
Amongst other important reasons, including for economic planning, the result of the census determines the size and demarcation of constituencies in the country, from which representation in the House of Representatives of the Legislature, is important. It is also important because it is used to validate the number of registered voters at a precinct for elections.
The result of the census is vital to also determining, for example, how and where to build more schools, hospitals, markets, farm-to-market roads, and to make other needed services like water, electricity, and telephone connectivity and sewer systems increasingly available to our people.
Our last census in 2008 put our population at 3.5million. Today, this administration cannot accurately tell a prospective investor or donor, the total population of our country or a specific county, but continues to rely on a projected estimate of five (5) million.