By Bridgett Milton
Two executives of the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC), Cllr. J. Fonati Koffa and Mr. Thomas P. Fallah have been elected Speaker and Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives at the start of the 55th Legislature.
Winning the two highest seats in the House of Representatives is a boost for the outgoing CDC-led government which in October 2023 won more seats in the lower house than the opposition Unity Party (UP) which heads the incoming government.
Members of the 55th Legislature began their regular legislative session on Monday, 15 January 2024 after newly elected and re-elected lawmakers’ induction.
Cllr. Koffa, the new House Speaker, is the immediate past Deputy Speaker who worked with former Speaker Bhofal Chambers.
In the speakership race, Cllr. Koffa defeated Unity Party-backed Richard Nagbe Koon of Montserrado County Electoral District #11 with a total of 36 votes against 31 votes.
Rep. Fonati Koffa was nominated by Montserrado County Electoral District #9 Representative Saah Foko while Rep. Richard Nagbe Koon was nominated by Mehker Gay of Nimba County Electoral District #3.
At the same time, Montserrado County Electoral District #16 Representative nominated Nimba County Electoral District #7 Representative Musa Bility.
Bility declined his nomination and told his colleague that the country was watching so they shouldn’t take the election process for a joke.
During the nomination process, Bong County Representative Robert Womba informed the August Body that Rep. Fonati Koffa could not be voted for because had dual citizenship.
Speaking after he was elected as Speaker, Cllr. Koffa thanked his colleagues for allowing him to lead them for the next six years as their Speaker.
He said the time for politics was over and it was now time for governance.
He however promised his colleagues that the unfinished business by the 54th Legislature will be continued.
At the same time, Rep. Thomas P. Fallah of Lofa County Electoral District #1 was elected as Deputy Speaker of the 55th Legislature defeating Rep. Musa Hassan Bility of Nimba County Electoral District #7 by 42 votes to 24 votes.
The House of Representatives now has a Speaker and a Deputy Speaker from the CDC who many here believe could be tough on the new government.
Unlike the Liberian Senate where Committee Chairs are elected, the Speaker of the House of Representatives has the constitutional power to appoint would-be Chairpersons for all Standing Committees of that august body.