Liberia: Senatorial Elections Fading Popularity of the Weah-led Government
MONROVIA – In a Facebook post sometime last week, Boakai Jaleiba, a member of the Collaborating Political Parties (CPP) gave an advice to President George Weah. He stated that if he were the President, the result coming out of the Special Senatorial Election would have been more than enough reason to grill his cabinet and immediately carryout a massive reshuffle.
By Lennart Dodoo, [email protected]
Leaders, in Jaleiba’s view, react to election numbers and make swift changes to rekindle hope and excite their bases.
But the call for reshuffle in the Weah-led government did not start with the results of these elections. President Weah, though he has carried out a few changes in his government, has been somewhat adamant in harkening to the call for change. He has often said that his cabinet needs time to prove their worth on the job.
However, it appears that the public is not waiting on President Weah’s timing for change. The ballot box presented an opportunity to cause some of the changes they need and in deed, they sent a crystal-clear message across. This, perhaps, must be wake up call for the President and the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC).
When the CDC lost Montserrado County to the Senator Abraham Darius Dillon of the opposition CPP in June 2019 in a by-election, they thought they had been awakened and it was high time they put their act together for a massive comeback.
At the time, they believed their grassroot-based supporters were angry because expectations were not being met and the ‘true’ CDCians were being left out of the governing process.
The chairman of the party then began to reach out to members of the Coalition across the length and breadth of Liberia – reaching out in every community and district in an effort to reconnect.
The plan was brilliant. In Montserrado County for instance, known to have been the CDC’s stronghold for over a decade, Chairman Mulbah Morlu managed to largely focused on the party’s grassroots base.
The CDC fully structured in the 17 districts; each district had 30 zones and each zone had 45 zonal leaders, led by a chairman. Zonal heads were campaign managers of their respective zones in the districts which means Montserrado alone had around 500 campaign managers, which was besides the national campaign committee.
Blame the Govt, Not the Party
From all indications, the structure that could have delivered victory for the ruling party was well in place, the financing for the campaign was very visible and indeed campaigning did go very well. However, did the campaign message resonate with the electorates?
The massive loss of several seats in the December 8 Senatorial election is a statement from the public to the government. It is not about the party being out of touch with the people. The results clearly show that the government has been out of touch with the people.
In an apparent conceding message, Representative Moses Acarous Gray, posted to Facebook:
“… We have had no history of leaving our soldiers on the frontline alone to wander. It’s a wakeup call to National Duty and be assured that we will not hold back in bringing the necessary pressure to bear on our officials including myself to do the right thing. The base must be properly taken care of and the incorporation of like minds and broader consultations are a must. Under-performers must quite or be quitted and the Presidency must be retained 2023 by our doubling up. Legislative election is not Presidential Election and let them make no mistake to think that they have won 2023. All we need to do now are amalgamation of forces and the execution of what we have promised the Liberian people.”
David Kolleh, an assistant minister at the Ministry of Information also admitted in a Facebook post:
“The Elections are Over, Let’s Recalibrate and Stop Blaming!
“Our democracy has been tested enough, and has always endure. I believe with all certainty that our democratic credentials are stronger, firmer, and remain intact. The stated purpose of democracy is for the people to choose who they want. It is for these values, ideals, and sheer purpose that we are here today.
“Our people chose on December 8. Ours is to look at the message and recalibrate, by working harder. This is no time for blame game. We all share the blame in many ways.
“My message to you my fellow Liberians, CDCians- friends, mothers, fathers, brothers and sisters, is to remain peaceful and calmed.
“In the brief time President Weah has been in office, the nation has experienced extraordinary amounts of challenges to date.
“Today however, as one of the junior officials in this administration, I call on you our people to rest assure that a lot will improve in the coming days, weeks and months – and I call on you to join us in opening a new chapter in our country’s history.
“Most Presidents are judged by their first term in office – encompassing their rollout policy initiatives for the years ahead. Unfortunately, even though we have a master policy plan, the enormity of challenges faced the nation at the moment; especially with the economy have denied us that initial opportunity of showing how much well our President means for the common people. But I am hoping that moving forward with your permission as a nation and people we can together reset the clock.”
“… We have had no history of leaving our soldiers on the frontline alone to wander. It’s a wakeup call to National Duty and be assured that we will not hold back in bringing the necessary pressure to bear on our officials including myself to do the right thing. The base must be properly taken care of and the incorporation of like minds and broader consultations are a must. Under-performers must quite or be quitted and the Presidency must be retained 2023 by our doubling up. Legislative election is not Presidential Election and let them make no mistake to think that they have won 2023. All we need to do now are an amalgamation of forces and the execution of what we have promised the Liberian people.”– Rep. Acarous Moses Gray, Spokesman, CDC Campaign Team
How Did the CDD Loss?
The latest results announced by NEC, continuous to place the opposition CPP in a favorable position to claim most of the senatorial seats in the 2020 special senatorial elections,
In Grand Bassa, incumbent Senator Nyonblee Karngar Lawrence retained her seat with a vital win over seven other candidates including her closest rival, former Senate Pro Tempore, Gbezohngar Milton Findley.
Declaring Senator Karngar-Lawrence as the winner of the Grand Bassa senatorial race, NEC Chairperson, Davidetta Browne Lansanah said, the Liberty Party political leader accumulated 22,476, constituting 42.01 percent, while, Mr. Findley who stepped down from his post as Foreign Minister and backed by President George Weah, a self-declared feminist in chief, to take on Liberia’s lone female Senator came crawling behind with 20,346 votes, amounting to 38.03 percent.
In Bong County, the CPP candidate, Deputy Speaker Prince Moye hammered his nearest rival incumbent Senator Henry Willie Yallah of the CDC by 52.29 percent to 32.91 percent. Announcing the total results from the county’s 536 polling places with 76,708 total votes, the NEC Chairperson said Deputy Speaker Moye obtained 39,337 votes while Senator Yallah got 25,247.
For Bomi, former CPP heavy weight, Rep. Edwin Melvin soundly emphatically defeated his opponents including former House Speaker Janekai Alex Tyler of the CDC and incumbent Senator Sando Dazoe Johnson of the CPP. In the first and final announcement made by the NEC for Bomi, Rep. Snowe grabbed 16,476 (5.97%) of the total votes of 330,526, while Mr. Tyler came second with 8,834 votes (28.94%). Senator Johnson received 2,994 votes (9.81%).
In River Gee County, the CPP candidate Jonathan Boycharles Sogbie won with 4,972, amounting to 3.59 percent, CDC Charles Korkor Bardyl came second with 4,598 (31.06%). Incumbent Senator Matthew N. Jaye Senator Matthew N. Jaye came distant third with 2,848 (19.24%).
For Rivercess, Independent Candidate Willington Geevon Smith was declared winner with 3,284 (23.45%) votes of 14,006 total ballots cast, while second place Steve Tequah got 3,168 votes (22.62%). For Senator Dallas Gueh of the CDC, the incumbent curse fell on him as he was only able to garner 2,119 votes (15.3%).
In the much followed Montserrado County’s race, CDC and District #5 Representative Thomas Fallah’s chances of edging out incumbent Senator Darius Dillon of the CPP continues to get slimmer as he lags behind Dillon with 16 points margin. With 89.2 percent of the votes tallied so far, the NEC Chairperson announced that Senator Dillon is ahead with 182,763 (61.8%), while Fallah is behind with 106,354 (35.72%).
In the hotly contested race Nimba County, Rep. Jeremiah Koung of the CDC-backed Movement for Democracy Reconstruction of Prince Y. Johnson has retaken the lead over CPP Edith Gonglo-Weh. With 90 percent of the votes counted, Rep. Koung is leading with 35.99% (34,025), while the former Nimba County Superintendent is behind with 32.68% (30,895).
This means, so far, the ruling CDC biggest hope in Grand Gedeh where they have a commanding lead.
What Liberians Say of the Result
Victor Nyemah who sells used clothing on Randall Street in Monrovia said he wished the December 8, 2020 special senatorial elections were the general and presidential elections.
“This government is lucky that this is not presidential elections. We voted for them, we put them in power. I was one of those at the fore front campaigning in my own weak way to make sure that Weah comes to power. But now, it feels like we brought curse on ourselves. The change we thought we were voting for has turned to our own swear. The country is not going anywhere and we, from the slum communities, we are feeling it the most,” he said.
According to him, when he voted for President Weah in 2017, he was very optimistic that he was voting against corruption, bad governance and sectionalism that he thought was the order of the day in the Ellen Johnson Sirleaf-led government. However, those practices continue to exist under the Weah rule.
Peter Mulbah, a resident of Sinkor, Monrovia told FrontPageAfrica that he was confident that the CDC senatorial candidate Thomas Fallah was going to win the election. According to him, he was shocked that the numbers coming out of the polls prove otherwise.
“As a party, we did our ground work well. I must commend the Chairman Morlu for doing such a great job and Hon. Thomas Fallah for campaigning so hard, but the will of the people must be respected. We will do our homework and do better next time,” he said.
Ruth Gibson is 65 and she voted against Rep. Fallah, she said. “When the Liberian people are tired with you, there is nothing you can do about it. that is why you see the margin is very wide. No one would have thought that another party will win Montserrado County like this. If this government does not improve before 2023, it will be bad for them.”
Ansu Sheriff who sells gasoline from jar for a living in Matadi said, “This government is such that if you’re not part of them, you can’t benefit anything. Even when you apply for job and you’re qualified, you’ll still not be considered. They will send a partisan. So, what difference does it make from the Madam Sirleaf’s regime? Why keep them in power if they cannot make any difference? We are tired.”