As Liberians gear up for the 2020 Special Senatorial elections in all 15 political sub-divisions of the country, this paper has earmarked four counties that are likely to become fierce battle grounds namely; Montserrado, Grand Bassa, Maryland, and Bomi Counties, respectively.
Here, in Montserrado, the senatorial seat is currently being occupied by opposition Senator Abraham Darius Dillon of the Liberty Party, a constituent party of the Collaborating Political Parties headed by Mr. Alexander Cummings. The ruling Congress for Democratic Change of President George Manneh Weah had held a firm grip on the county since 2005, but lost one seat to Mr. Dillon last year in a by-election in a defeat the ruling Coalition is yet to recuperate from.
During the 2005, 2011 and 2017 general and presidential elections, the Weah’s Congress for Democratic Change topped all political parties that participated not until 2019 when the CPP candidate, Dillon overturned the table by winning over 50 percent of the votes, the highest ever in recent elections for Montserrado. Now the CDC is in a Coalition with the Liberia People Democratic Party and the National Patriotic Party to face Dillon again.
Following primaries conducted throughout Montserrado County recently, the ruling Coalition has put forward Representative Thomas Fallah, currently enjoying his third term in the House of Representatives, as its candidate for the senate.
Fallah presides over the Ways, Means, Finance and Budget Committee of the House of Representatives and is currently vice chairman for operations of the ruling party. There are reports that President Weah has instructed all officials of government to ensure that Montserrado County is repossessed at all cost.
The CDC under the leadership of Chairman MulbahMorlu, Chief Cyril Allen, Alex Tyler and Vice President Jewel Howard Taylor, is digging its heels deep into the ground to make a comeback. The political management team of the Coalition is leaving no stone unturned in the impending battle to retake the county in December ahead of the 2023 Presidential election.
But Sen. Dillon currently enjoys the support of the CPP which comprises four political parties: the Unity Party, the Liberty Party, the Alternative National Congress and the All Liberian Party.
Dillon, who has coded himself as the ‘light’ in the Liberian Senate, is seen here as someone who stands a greater chance of retaining the Montserrado seat. However, the ruling establishment is building up strategies to make him the shortest-serving senator at the Liberian Senate in recent history.
His popularity swelled when he publicly declared his salary, allowance and other benefits to the public, the first ever by any of the 30 senators on Capitol Hill. He also broke the news of senators receiving US$6,500 each as operational funds immediately after endorsing the State of Emergency declared by President Weah in April.
The amount, totaling US$195,000 was dished out among senators at a time nurses and other health workers leading the Covid-19 fight were crying for incentives and personal protective equipment or PPEs.
Though Dillon said the money for operations, Senator Prince Johnson of Nimba County strongly debunked the Montserrado County Senator when he revealed on a live talk show that the money was lobbying fee from the executive for recalling senators from their Easter Break. Senator George Tengbeh of Lofa County later stated that the amount was understated by Dillon, saying, they actually received US$8,000 each.
However, for Grand Bassa County, the second oldest county of the Republic will witness the Liberty Party political leader, Senator Nyonblee Karnga Lawrence coming face to face with former Foreign Affairs Minister Gbehnzohngar Milton Findley, now of the CDC.
Findley served as Senate President Pro-Tempore of the Liberian Senate as then member of the former ruling Unity Party from 2008 to 2014 but was defeated by current Senator Jonathan Kaipee.
He recently resigned his ministerial post to face Senator Karnga Lawrence in the senatorial election. It is believed that Findley has a firm support base among the youths.
Mr. Findley, who had cordial relationship with former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf during her administration reportedly, used his influence and carried Equatorial Palm Oil Company, and ArcelorMittal which increased employment rate of the Bassa people. Today, he is a close associate of the ruling establishment especially, President Weah.
But the CDC is yet to feature candidate against Findley as his relationship with the ruling party has put him in a comfortable place ahead of other senatorial contenders, excluding opposition Senator Karnga Lawrence, who poses a serious political threat to Findley’s quest for the senate.
Senator Karnga Lawrence is daughter of a popular and influential gospel prelate, Rev. Dr. Karnga Lawrence who established and owned the Worldwide Church and the JCCA Bassa singing group. Both religious groups are the most popular in the county. The people of Bassa are predominantly Christians and adhere to advice from elders.
Grand Bassa County is known to be the stronghold of Liberty Party founded by late standard bearer, Cllr. Charles Walker Brumskine, who was also a native of Bassa. Senator Karnga Lawrence being the current face of the Liberty Party puts her in an advantage point with the Bassa people.
Maryland County and its habitants will witness two sons all partisans of the National Patriotic Party battle each other at the ballot box. Senator H. Dan Morais and former longest served Representative James Biney are currently at each other’s throats for the senatorial seat of the county.
Sen. Morais, who won the ticket of the NPP, has been kicked out of the party because of his refusal to contest in the primary of the Coalition for Democratic Change, which NPP is part of.
But Biney is believed to have closed relationship with among youths of Maryland, while Morais enjoys cordiality among adults and elders of the county. The two are strong intellectuals and have some controllable cash that could be used to move voters around.
The people of Bomi County are currently walloping in political noise and tensions as two former speakers of the House of Representatives battle for the senatorial seat of that county. Representative Edwin Melvin Snowe and political leader of the Liberian People Party, former Speaker Alex Tyler will spend time with the people in persuading electorate, ahead of the 2020 Special Senatorial Elections.
Former Speaker Tyler is contesting on the ticket of the ruling CDC and is a native of the county unlike Snowe, who crossover from Montserrado County Electoral District #6 after two terms and contested in Bomi during the 2017 election and won.
However, Snowe is considered a heavy weight based on establishment of his huge farm, which is currently producing palm oil for export. He just resigned from the former ruling Unity party and is expected to contest as an Independent candidate in the pending election.
At the same time Tyler is also a man with serious cash but he’s blamed for not investing Bomi County, instead, his investment is based both in Monrovia and Margibi County.
Between the two former speakers, is current Senator Sand Johnson, who is seeking reelection on the ticket of the All Liberian Party and the Collaborating Political Parties.
By E. J. Nathaniel Daygbor– Editing by Jonathan Browne