Liberia: Bomi Senator Edwin Snowe Proves His Rising Political Strength as His Choice Seals County Legislative Seat
Monrovia – When Edwin Melvin Snowe lost his leadership of the lower house of Liberia’s national legislature in January 2007, many left him for dead, politically.
At the end of this week’s by-elections, Snowe, now a Senator from Bomi County has once again proven to his doubters, that he is a politician to be reckoned with not just now, but in the not too distant future.
Snowe’s candidate, in the Bomi County District No. 1 race, Finda Gborie Lansanah, widow of the late Senator Lahai Lansanah, running as an independent, has taken an unsurmountable lead with 3,945 votes for 42.2 percent while Varney J. Kpakpa of the LRP is running second with 3,229 votes for 34.5 percent.
In Grand Gedeh, which has been a stronghold of the ruling CDC for years, the ruling party lost to the Liberia Restoration Party (LRP) candidate, Erol Madison Gwion Sr. The county has voted CDC since 2005 when it was in opposition.
From the preliminary results which were pasted on the walls of the polling precincts and signed by party agents, Gwion polled 3,109 votes against the CDC candidate Mr. Jeremiah Garwo Sokan who garnered 2,698 votes.
In Bong County, James Kolleh of the People’s Unification Party is poised to win with 4,283 votes for 33.3 percent reporting. The CDC’s Melvin K. Salvage is second with 3,582 votes for 30.2 percent.
In the days leading to Tuesday’s ballot, Senator Snowe was entangled in a messy trading of barbs with Montserrado County Senator Abraham Darius Dillon and Grand Bassa Senator Nyonblee Karnga-Lawrence.
Senators Dillon and the political leader of the Liberty Party, Senator Karnga-Lawrence had gone to Married Camp, Bomi County District 1 to campaign for Charles Brown for the upcoming by-election.
Senator Dillon accused Senator Snowe of working for President George Weah with the purpose of receiving money from the President for personal gains.
“The woman Snowe bringing to y’all, don’t vote for her. He’s my colleague who is fighting for his pocket and George Weah’s interest. If your put that lady there, she will listen to Snowe they will be at Jamaica Resort. If your put Charles Brown there, y’all will increase our number to fight for your,” he said.
Brown, a vocal Senate staffer was running on the ticket of the opposition Collaborating Political Parties. Brown was a distant third, securing 1,224 votes for 13.1 percent of the Bomi tally.
Dillon, while campaign had declared that Bomi did not have internet and telecommunication services – something he said he and his preferred candidate would work together in advocating at the Senate for the people of Bomi County. “A whole concession, no internet service; with this population no internet here? We got to raise that argument in the Senate. In this modern day and age, people living in a concession area and the concession there can’t even fight to bring internet? It’s painful,” Dillon said.
Responding, Senator Snowe described Senator Dillon’s advocacy for internet in Bomi County as pretentious while at the same time outlining that, hundreds of thousands of citizens in rural Montserrado lack basic needs including internet. “How can you pretend to advocate for my citizens to get internet facilities in Bomi when our people in Rural Montserrado County, such as Todee are without internet and other basic needs?”, Snowe quipped
At the end of Tuesday’s ballot, Snowe had the last laugh with his candidate appears cruising to a crushing victory. “ Abe Darius Dillon, Nyonblee Karnga-Lawrence and the entired CPP, You’ve got mail in Bomi County… He who laughs last,” the Senator jabbed.
Senator Snowe later told FrontPageAfrica: “Representation should never be about where you come from but to serve the people you represent and serve them well.”
Snowe’s journey to Tuesday night had been rugged.
In 2007, Mr. Snowe was removed from his position as Speaker amid allegations of bribery. But only a few days later, the Supreme Court ordered him reinstated, pending Snowe’s appeal.
Snowe and his lawyers argued that the regular setting of the house was unconstitutional and was illegal and alleged that some votes against him were obtained through bribery and that the matter was not legitimate because it did not occur in a city, as required by the constitution. On January, 29, 2007, the Supreme Court ruled in Snowe’s favor, describing his removal as unconstitutional. However, the legislators who attempted to vote Snowe out of his position reportedly intended to again attempt to remove him by holding another vote.
Despite the high court ruling, Snowe took the high road. On February 15, 2007, he stepped down on grounds that he would not go to the township of Virginia for Legislative matters in keeping with article 40 of the Liberian Constitution which states: Neither House shall adjourn for more than five days without the consent of the other and both Houses shall always sit in the same city.
After serving two terms in the lower house, Mr. Snowe changed his domicile to Bomi, in a controversial decision to took him all the way to the Supreme Court.
After a lengthy battle, the high court ruled that there was no law barring Snowe, then a sitting member of the lower house, in District #6 Montserrado County from contesting in Sinje District of Bomi County in Western Liberia, where the Senator has a home and a farm.
The court outrightly dismissed two similar cases separately filed by two Bomi lawmakers against Mr. Snowe’s political transfer to another county.
Reading the Court’s Opinion on Tuesday, 5 September, Chief Justice Francis S. Korkpor, Sr. said the Court cannot ascribe lawmaking to itself, encouraging lawmakers here to consider reviewing the laws if their intent is to restrict serving lawmakers to their constituency which may not allow contesting in different constituencies.
Prior to his elections to the National Legislature, he served as Managing Director and Secretary to the Board, Liberia Petroleum Refinery Company (LPRC). Before this, Snowe served the LPRC as Deputy Managing Director for Operations and Coordinator, Product Storage terminal respectively.
Snowe also served the Liberia Football Association as President, where he lent his administrative expertise to the Confederation of African Football (CAF) and the Federation of International Football Association (FIFA) as Match Commissioner and Technical Committee Member.
Snowe holds a Masters in Public Administration from the University of Liberia. He has also benefited from numerous sports administration trainings Committee Membership.
With his candidate on her way to the lower house, many political observers say Snowe has once again defied the norms of convention. His support for the incumbent Weah has been widely criticized but the Senator has told some aides that his decision is based on the former ruling Unity Party’s lack of respect for his political clout and influence.
As the current chair of the Political Affairs and Security Committee of the ECOWAS Parliament, political observers say, Senator Snowe’s rise from political obscurity to an influential force in Liberian politics cannot be underrated or taken for granted.