Liberia: Ruling CDC’s Rep. J. Fonati Koffa’s Election As Deputy Speaker Casts Light on the Opposition CPP’s Weakness in the House
MONROVIA – The ruling Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) has edged out the opposition Collaborating Parties (CPP) following the emphatic victory of its chosen candidate in the election for Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives.
In the face of a pact by the opposition Collaborating Political Parties and the Like-minded Representatives of the 54th Legislature, the ruling party’s candidate, Cllr. J. Fonati Koffa defied the odds despite being from the ruling party along with the Speaker and from the Southeastern region along with the President, the Speaker and the President Pro-Tempore of the Liberian Senate, to become the Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives through an overwhelming victory on Tuesday.
The victory comes following a fresh mid-term senatorial election where the opposition outperformed the ruling establishment and won most of the seats that were up for grasp.
Owing to the ruling party dismal performance in the polls, it was widely predicted prior to the Deputy Speaker’s election that the polls would have been a two-horse race between the CDC and CPP. Some even thought that the CPP might triumph again owing to their huge number and good rapport with Independent lawmakers. However, Tuesday’s election which was held in the chambers of the House was a complete antithesis of those predictions as Rep. Koffa won 66 percent of the votes.
Declaring Rep. Koffa as the winner, House Chief Clerk Mildred Sayon announced that out of 68 vote cast, the Grand Kru County’s District 2 lawmaker who also chaired the Committee on Judiciary before his election accumulated 45 votes and followed by Rep. Massaquoi with 20 votes. Rep. Moima Briggs Mensah of Bong District #6 came distant third with just two votes.
How CPP Lost
There were several lawmakers from the CPP who had earlier flaunted the idea to contest. But on the eve of the election, most of them told reporters that there were intensive consultations ongoing to better stand a chance to win the seat, which has been vacated by fellow partisan, Prince Moye following his election as Senator of Bong County in the December 8, 2020 Special Senatorial Elections.
“I know that we have done extensive consultations, and we are still in close consultations with our colleagues and they are going very well, a confident Rep. Massaquoi told reporters on Monday, the eve of the election.
“I am very confident that I will be a candidate with the blessings of my colleagues. We are having conversations across the floor; the numbers are aligning and realigning, because in politics, there are alignments and realignments. But at the end of the day, we will come up with positive results.”
Then late Monday night, the CPP Legislative caucus issued a statement endorsing Rep. Massaquoi.
Excerpt of the statement: “As we go into electing the Deputy Speaker for the continuation of the 54th National Legislature, we the members of the Collaborating Political Party Caucus and Like-minded Representatives of the 54th National Legislature, bearing in mind the need for a balance and checkmating of Legislative oversight, cognizant of the decisions of the Liberian people in the just ended midterm senatorial election and national referendum, couple with the cross-cutting leadership skills, knowledge, and intellectual prowess of Hon. Massaquoi, Representative of District 3, Lofa County, we hereby endorse him as candidate for the Deputy Speaker position.”
However, with only three candidates nominated and endorsed, observers had thought that the list had reduced in order to ensure the CPP win since most of the presumptive candidates were from the opposition bloc. A source close to the CPP caucus told FrontPage Africa that there were 36 signatures affixed to the statement endorsing the CPP candidate, but was surprised that the vote did not exceed 20. He said the defeat showed that the CPP is not yet formidable as it has been perceived and it needs to put its house in order to stand up to the ruling party.
“The CPP has a lot more to do. They should not fool themselves that they are formidable. They must put their House in order to be able to stand up to the ruling party, or else that House will be dominated by one party, the source, referring anonymity told FPA.”
Did Money Interplay?
While the observers praised the election as transparent, there are speculations within the corridors of the Capitol that there were huge financial offer from the ruling party to persuade lawmakers to vote their candidates.
An official of the CPP Caucus, Rep. Hanson Kiazolu of Montserrado County appears to back such claim when he was quoted by a local FM station as saying they lost the election because of financial indifference.
For the CDC, the victory was a major comeback after their colossal loss in the December 8, 2020 Special Senatorial Elections.
“We just lost a major election in the midterm election and this is a very serious come back for the Coalition for Democratic change. With the combination of these two gentlemen, the House will be stable. The major thing is to unite the House and address some of these things that that are affecting the state,” said Rep. Marvin Cole of Bong county and Chairman of Rep. Koffa’s campaign team.
Speaking to reporters after the election, Rep. Cole said the opposition traded their Deputy Speaker position after their partisan decided to contest for the Senate.
“They were not intelligent in terms of having a Deputy Speaker. They traded that with a mere Senator job, and to come back and use intelligent people like us, we saw that it was disingenuous. We couldn’t have bought in to that because we think that it was completely erroneous to have given the opposition the very seat that they dashed down.”
However, Rep. Koffa was much sober and reconciliatory when he called on the House to unite and work in the interest of the Liberian people.
“Let us return and do the work of the Liberian people so that they can be proud of us,” he said after his swearing in.