Liberia: BONG 2020 – What Concerns Will Sway Voters?
Gbarnga, Bong County – Election season is in full swing in Bong County. The race for the Senate seat is becoming interesting, even more intriguing, considering the level of ongoing alignment and realignment of forces among the contenders. As at now, it is difficult to predict where the pendulum will swing.
Here’s a look at some of the issues that could shape the coming election cycle in Bong County
The politics of 2023
Unfolding political events among candidates of the Senate race in the county in recent months have called for a serious concern. Gearing up and in a bid to pave way for their safe landings, major players, especially those who have intentions to contest the 2023 legislative elections in the county have begun moves of re-aligning with candidates in the race whom they feel will support their ambitions in the various districts.
And this explains why the Bong Legislative caucus is factionalized. Three members of the caucus, namely District Four lawmaker, Robert Womba, District Six representative Moima Briggs-Mensah and Senator Henrique Tokpa all support Moye’s ambition for the Senate, while District Three lawmaker Marvin Cole, District One lawmaker, Albert Hills, Edward Karfiah of District Five. District Seven lawmaker Joseph Papa Kolleh of the Collaborating Political Party (CPP), is still silent on his choice of candidate but it is believed he supports the CDC candidate in the race.
Lawmakers who are supporting Moye and Yallah feel that the two lawmakers have already scouted potential candidates to support against their re-elections in 2023.
For example, Marvin Cole, who supports Yallah’s re-election, fears that Moye has reportedly scouted former transport minister, Tornolah Varpilah, to contest against him and supporting Moye’s quest for the senate would be “stabbing himself in the back”. Moye is already preparing Mr. Varpilah to contest against me in 2023. Should he win the Senate race, he would be armed to support Mr Varpilah. In light of that, I am appealing to all my supporters in District Three not to support the Senate quest of Moye,” Cole told his supporters while declaring his supporter for Yallah’s re-election.
Besides Varpilah, Moye is also said to have to have assured several persons of his support to contest against Cole, though he hasn’t confirmed that to FPA. The likes of Gbarnga businessman Olando Zarwolo, who finished second to Cole in 2023, Human Rights activist, Jesse Cole, are all said to have been assured by Moye to contest in 2023.
Also, Womba seems to be confronted with similar fear. Womba’s popularity in the district could be brought to bear in 2020. The lawmaker, who is in the third year of his first tenure, seems to be having some headache about the emergence of a popular young man in the district, Jonah Tokpah, who is believed to be having an intention to contest in the district 2023. Tokpah supports Yallah’s bid, while Womba supports Moye’s Senate ambition. Yallah’s decision to align with Tokpah to mobilize support for him in the district seems to be heightening fear in Womba and has prompted the lawmaker to fear for his job in 2023.
“Politics is interest. You can’t be supporting my rival and expect me to campaign for you,” Womba told supporters in the district.
In District One, lawmaker Hills of the All Liberian Party, has not hidden his desire to support Yallah despite being an opposition lawmaker. Like Cole, Hills feels that Moye has already built alliances with people whom he sees as potential threat to his re-election bid in 2023. The likes of former lawmaker Tokpah Mulbah, who lost to Hills in 2023 and Wamah Kuteh have all joined the bandwagon to support Moye.
Hajah Swaray – new face of Muslims in Bong?
A new face of the Muslim community has emerged, she is no one but Hajah Swaray. Mr Ansu Sesay, who is regarded as the head of the Muslim community in Bong County, seems to be at odds with his kinsmen over charges of using the name of the community to benefit his personal ego.
Sesay, a businessman in Gbarnga, has been undertaking projects of from the county seemingly because of his status as head of the Muslims community, but many of his kinsmen complain that he has reportedly used those fortunes to reportedly benefit himself at the expense of the community.
He, however, rejected those accusations and termed it as political. But in earnest, those charges against Sesay have taken toll on his popularity in the community.
Most of his kinsmen who supported him politically in the county have abandoned him, dealing a blow to the quest of Moye, whom many claimed Sesay support for the Senate.
Those agitations from majority of Muslims in Bong County have given rise to the emergence of Swaray. Swaray, an influential woman in the Muslim community, recently endorsed the candidature of Mohammed Nasser for the Senate.
Swaray’s decision has given some impetus to Nasser’s bid and has made him popular in the Muslim community. She recently organized an elaborate program to endorse Nasser’s bid and it was attended by scores of leaders in the community.
Time is running out for Sesay to savage what is now seen as a lost image, particularly in convincing his kinsmen. FrontPage Africa has gathered that Moye is expected to construct a town hall for the Muslim women, but FPA has gathered that it might not be enough to sway the decision of those aggrieved Muslims.
VP Taylor secretly supports Dumoe?
The decision of Vice President Jewel Howard-Taylor in the 2020 Senate race in Bong County is crucial to her own political survival. She’s credited for winning two successive elections in Bong County as a senator before helping the CDC win the 2017 presidential election as vice standard bearer to Ambassador George Weah.
News of rift between Howard-Taylor and President Weah has dominated headlines in recent months. And her open confession of not supporting the CDC candidate in Bong County Henry Yallah is said to have made matters worse. But who could Howard-Taylor support upon return? Already speculations are rife that Howard-Taylor has already decided to support Menikpakei Dumoe. The speculations heightened when the chairman of the party in Bong County, Waifa Siafa, accompanied Dumoe to a political rally in the county. Besides, all of Howard-Taylor’s political groups in the county have endorsed Dumoe’s bid.
While this may not be entirely reliable, the fact that Yallah is still on the seat might reflect on December 8. In every district in Bong County, the campaign posters Yallah exist.
The senator will rely heavily on some projects he has spearheaded such as road construction, school construction and others. This is why we are asking the people of Bong County to give us anther nine years mandate. We have worked tirelessly to make the county a better place. We need the support of the people to continue in this direction,” Yallah said at one of his campaign rallies.