Voters in Western Liberia Brush Aside ‘Party Mandate’ in Just-ended By-election

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TUBMANBURG, Bomi County – The election of Representatives and Senators based on political parties’ mandate or popularity and mere campaign promises is said to be diminishing across Liberia, especially in the western region.

On Tuesday, November 16, thousands of eligible voters in Senjeh district# 1 Bomi County went to the polls to elect the candidates of their choice.

The by-election in Senjeh district in Bomi was held simultaneously along with three separate by elections taking place in Bong, Nimba, and Grand Gedeh Counties.

The by-elections were triggered following the ascendancies of four Representatives to the Liberian Senate during the December 8, 2020 senatorial election held in the country.

They include Senators Edwin Melvin Snowe (former Representative district # 1 Bomi), Prince Moye (former Representative Bong district # 2),  Zoe Pennue (former Representative Grand Gedeh district # 1), and Jeremiah Koung (former Representative district # 1) respectively.

Nine candidates contested the representative seat for electoral district # 1 in Bomi County.

They include: Armah Vanah Boakai (Independent ), Charles S. Brown of the Collaborating Political Parties (CPP), John D. Karmo of Liberian National Union (LINU), Finda Gborie Lansanah (independent), and Edwin Folley McGill (independent).

Others are: Harry Buster Sando, Sr (Independent), Roosevelt Arvin Tulay, Sr of People’s Unification Party (PUP), J. Kpakpa Obediah Varney of Liberia Restoration Party (LRP), She Maxwell Vincent of Liberian People’s Party (LPP).

The ruling Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) did not field a candidate in the race.

But President George Manneh Weah sometimes ago reportedly endorsed a request from his good friend, Senator Edwin Melvin Snowe to support his candidate-the lone female in the race.

The provisional results tallied run in favor of independent candidate Finda Gborie Lansanah, who was supported by Senator Snowe during the process.

Citizens in Tubmanburg attributed the decision taken by the CDC to snub the process to “fear of being massively defeated” again.

It can be recalled that the ruling party’s candidate Alex Tyler, former Speaker of the House of Representatives, was massively defeated by Senator Snowe, who contested as an independent candidate during the December 8, 2020 senatorial election.

Senator Snowe  got 16, 476 or 53.97% of the total valid votes of 30,526 cast, while Mr. Tyler accumulated 8,834 votes.

The citizens of Senjeh district viewed the just ended by election as a race which was held between Senator Snowe and Mr. Tyler.

Mr. Tyler supported and vigorously canvassed for the candidate of the Liberia Restoration Party (LRP), Obediah Kpakpa Varney.

But the citizens described the results in favor of Madam Lasanah as a complete replica of the 2020 senatorial election.

Speaking in an interview with Frontpage Africa in Tubmanburg on Wednesday, November 17, Sam Karneh observed that residents of the district have abandoned their usual political habit of voting for representative and senatorial candidates based on party lines.

He claimed that Senjeh district remains a “no go zone” for the CDC as evidenced by the party’s decision taken to stay clear of the by election.

“My political leader is Soko Dorley and he endorsed Madam Lansanah. I will be unfair to judge the CPP or CDC right now. But the people of Bomi particularly Senjeh district have decided to move and not to vote based on party lines or affiliation”.

” We have decided to have our own representing us. We left the issue of party affiliation and decided to have our own because this is a person who has been there for us and we can reach out to at anytime and any day”.

He claimed that the results of the Senjeh district representative by election was going to be a political “tsunami” against the CDC, if the ruling party was to support a candidate to contest on its ticket.

“The flogging was going to be overwhelming if the CDC was to support a candidate in the race. The CDC has lost its integrity particularly in Bomi”.

Karneh maintained that it was going to be a “waste of time” for the CDC to put forth a candidate for the just ended by election in Bomi.

“The CPP couldn’t even make it then that CDC? I am just like I am in Heaven right now. We don’t want them to come and fail us again and so we voted for Finda Gborie Lansanah”, Hawa Sheriff, a dry fish seller, stated.

She continued: “Things are not going on fine in the country and even if CDC was going to support a candidate, the person was not going to win. We are suffering and even if we buy our goods for people to come buy, it’s not easy”.

She attributed the severe hardship confronting citizens of the western region to the lack of foreign direct investment to guarantee the provision of job opportunities to scores of citizens and others residing in the county.

Moore James is an elderly man residing in Tubmanburg. He’s a member of the former ruling Unity Party.

The UP is one of the political parties that make up the opposition Collaborating Political Parties (CPP).

The remaining parties that make up the CPP include: All Liberian Party (ALP), Alternative National Congress (ANC) and the Liberty Party (LP).

He declined from supporting the candidate of the CPP, Charles Brown, in the Senjeh representative by-election on grounds that he was not the preferred choice of the people.

“We expected the results to be in our favor because we worked towards it. The CPP candidate Charles Brown came in the picture very late and he doesn’t have any weight here. Though I am from the UP, but I didn’t support him”.

“If CDC was even going to put a candidate in the race, we were going to defeat them and so, they were afraid”.

Marie Siafa is a member of the CDC. She supported candidate Foday McGill in the just ended by election in Bomi.

“I am feeling fine even though my candidate did not win. CDC was not going to win even if they had a candidate in the race because they failed us in the past. It is better we find someone or vote for a person that can work with us in the county”.

“People from here went in the House and they failed us. Even if they come back or show us someone for us to vote for that person, we will not do it because that person will fail us too”.

Marie emphasized that though the CDC did not field a candidate in the election, she reneged on supporting the candidate of Mr. Tyler, who is a hierarchy of the ruling party, because he (Tyler) did not do well for the people of Bomi during his stay in both the 52nd and 53rd national legislatures of Liberia.

Not voting on empty promises
The citizens remain resolved to reject candidates vying for various elections at both the local and national levels based upon what they termed as “empty promises”.

They claimed that most often politicians make promises that are unrealistic to win their minds and votes during electioneering periods.

The citizens maintained that they have been deceived  based upon the declaration of these promises to cast their ballots in favor of those candidates, but following their ascendancies, the fruition of these commitments remain a myth.

“Every year we can hear them (politicians) saying if your vote for us, we will build your market buildings, we will give your loans and we will give your children scholarships, but as soon they get there (in power), you will not even see or hear from them”, Patience Varney, a marketer stated.

Promise is a debt
She continued: “We believe that promise is a debt and whenever you made a promise to someone, just know that you are oweing that person. But for the President, Representative or Senators-when they promise you and they win the election, you can’t even go near their houses or working places to remind them about those promises they made”.

They observed that some politicians are in the constant habit of denying that they made promises to electorates during campaign periods.

They want promises for votes to be adequately documented and archived in a bid to ensure that elected public officials do not renege on actualizing those promises made.

“As for me, I don’t really have problem with someone making promises, but if you fail to fulfill your promises, there where I can have issues. I want those making promises to us to document them and give us our copies and you  have yours also because when tomorrow comes, we will be able to judge you base upon that document”, an elderly man who only identified himself as Pa Morris stated.

The electorates are now considering track record or tangibles,  accessibility, sincerity and leading by examples as indicators to look for in candidates vying for elected positions in the future.

They appear to be relunctant or tired of trading their votes for finances, food, materials or voting based on “party mandate of vote one, vote all”.

The provisional results of the just ended representative by elections in the four counties must serve as a warning shot to the ruling CDC and CPP to reunite, recalibrate and implore additional strategies if they must be successful in future presidential and general elections come 2023 and beyond.

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