Buchanan, Grand Bassa County – There will be resounding twists and turns, ups and downs and most of all changing of political lanes before Liberia’s 2017 elections. Some political bedfellows or self-proclaimed kingmakers are on the move, searching for an ideal deal to tie-in with political parties or their sponsors. But making the right move is cardinal for any politician ahead of 2017and for lawmakers seeking re-election, it is fundamental to maintaining their seats at the Capitol.
The ruling Unity Party has already seen an exodus of some of its stewards since 2015, prominent amongst them are House Speaker Alex J. Tyler and Senator Oscar Cooper. With UP keen of retaining the presidency after Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf tenure expires, the party will need to factorize geopolitics and the dividends of maintaining its clutch on constituencies occupied by her members. In Grand Bassa County, it appears that the only Unity Party lawmaker is considering a ‘backslide’ from the party that paved the way for her victory back in 2011. Representative Mary Karwor, wife of Liberia’s traditional council – Chief Zanzan Karwor, recently told a gathering in her constituency that she supports a ‘Bassa Presidency’ come 2017. Representative Karwor through an English interpreter said: “Come 2017 we will want a Bassa man to be President and that will only happen by the support of all Bassa people.” She continued by calling on her kinsmen to rally their support for a tribesman who she named as Liberty Party’s Charles Walker Brumskine. “I’m from the Unity Party and our President is from Bomi but I’m starting it by going the first …; our President we was carrying before is Charles Walker Brumskine, so let’s come together and support him for the presidency,” she added. Representative Karwor seems unconvinced by the level of support she has received from the ruling party and has also openly lamented the limited individual support from President Sirleaf as it relates her personal constituency projects. Her opened declaration of support for a Bassa President in 2017 was made over the event organized by Liberty Party’s Grand Bassa Senator Jonathan Kaipay. Senator Kaipay, who has over the last couple of months embarked on feeder roads rehabilitation projects, was in District Two to refurbish the Waka Town-Compound Two road and Rep. Karwor seized the opportunity to complement her colleague’s efforts. The two lawmakers appear to be on good-footing and this paves way for a further political alignment. For Representative Karwor, she’s desperate for re-election and will be seeking alliance with others staunch politicians in the county. Triumphing ahead of 10 other candidates in 2011 with 3,425 (25.0%) out of a total of 13,726, Karwor will face more competition in 2017. The ‘Bassa President’ debate ahead of 2017, some say, opens up divisive and tribal politics; however, Liberia’s body politics is never void of geopolitics – something much influential in attracting electorates in a very competitive contest. Over the last two years, LP has succeeded in luring prominent politicians of the county including Senator Kaipay from UP and former Defense Minister Daniel Chea from the National Patriotic Party. With the writing clear on the walls that UP only lawmaker in Grand Bassa is at the brink of exiting the party and former Senate Pro Temp, Gbehzongar Findley not making the calls any longer in the county, UP may struggle to win the county in 2017. With 30,277 voters participating in the 2011 elections, LP edged passed UP with the latter earning 28,039 (37.6%) while the former claiming 24,798 (32.2%), according to official tally sheets from the National Elections Commission. The past two Senatorial elections in the county have also favored Liberty Party considering the back-to-back successes of LP in the 2013 by-election which saw the election of Senator Nyonblee Karnga-Lawrence and the 2014 Special Senatorial election that saw Jonathan Kaipay defeating UP-aligned politician, Gbehzongar Findley. Comprehensively, Liberty Party had a poor showing in 2011claiming fourth place after Prince Y. Johnson’s National Union for Democratic Progress. Coming back from his political respite in 2015, Cllr. Brumskine and his Liberty Party will be relying on home support. Cllr. Brumskine has often reiterated the significance of forming strong blocks within the Bassa speaking counties of Margibi, Rivercess and Grand Bassa Counties.