-Over Senate Pro-temp election
The ruling Unity Party of President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf appears to be in disarray over the pending Senate President Pro-tempore election, which is scheduled to take place in 9-days as officials put forward personal interests over party.
Party sources say both the UP standard bearer, President Sirleaf and the Party’s Chairman, Sen. Varney Sherman, are headed in different directions, while the Party’s candidate Oscar Cooper is left alone to fan for himself.
Currently, there are eight Unity Party Senators within the Senate, which gives the UP a competitive advantage over the others, should it put forward a candidate of its own for the strategic Pro-temp post.
However, the top executive members are rather said to be pushing their personal agendas by supporting candidates from the opposition bloc over their own, something reminiscence of the December 20, 2014 Special Senatorial Election.
There are three known candidates so far competing for the post: Senator Joseph Nagbe of the Alliance for Peace and Democracy or APD; Sen. Armah Jallah of the National Patriotic Party or NPP; and Sen. Oscar Cooper of the UP.
Sources say temperaments are high within the UP camp. The standard bearer, President Sirleaf, is said to be bent on ensuring that Senator Joseph Nagbe of the APD is given the knob, while aggrieved party Chairman Sen. Sherman is pushing the interest of NPP’s Armah Jallah as the UP’s Oscar Cooper is being coerced to back off the race.
The stands being taken by the UP executives have raise serious question as to whether officials of the party believe in institutions building or just greed and personal interests.
But why the Sen. Cooper rejection?
Senator Oscar Cooper, has been described within his own party circle as being too independent and abrasive and would not likely want to dance to the tone of his standard bearer or let say any executive interest.
It all started, when Sen. Cooper of Margibi County made his intention known to contest the Senate Pro-tempore position made vacant by the defeat of former Sen. Gbehzohngar Findley last December.
Party sources say the standard bearer had called Senator Cooper, asking him to back down but he had insisted that if there will be only one vote for him, he will go for it.
But the situation became more difficult for the UP Senator, who co-chairs the Senate Committee on Defense with Nimba County Sen. Prince Johnson after the UP Chairman Sen. Sherman, who had also expressed interest in the position, could not push further because of Sen. Cooper’s declared intention.
At a meeting held at the President’s Foreign Ministry office’s conference room, the issue of the Party supporting Senator Cooper was brought up. Sources said while the President’s intention for Sen. Nagbe was made known, she was override by senior party members, who were supported by Vice President Joseph Boakai that there was no need supporting an opposition candidate over a UP’s candidate. And that the party already had the majority in the Senate.
But the Vice President was said to have somersaulted days later in support of the President’s decision to support Sen. Nagbe over Sen. Cooper.
But Senator Cooper, a man recruited to join the Unity Party by President Sirleaf just before the 2011 elections said he is determine to pursuit his political ambition, adding it’s time to build institutions.
Why Sen. Nagbe?
Party sources say the election of Sen. Nagbe as Senate Pro-tempore will eventually lead to the appointment of the President’s trusted ally, new Senator elect, Morris Saytumah as Chairman on Executive. And with an ailing Sen. Nagbe lying in hospital, Sen. Saytumah is the next in line to preside.
But why would Chairman Sherman run to Sen. Jallah?
The election of Senator Jallah, political commentators say would give Sen. Sherman some level of control of the Senate that he would not get from an elected Sen. Cooper or Sen. Nagbe. Another reason for such support is in retaliation of Sen. Cooper’s refusal to back down for him [Sherman].
Who is likely to vote against Sen. Jallah?
Sen. Jallah, like Sen. Cooper, has some oppositions within his own party. Senator Jewel Howard Taylor, is one notable Senator, who is likely to vote against Sen. Jallah on grounds that he refused to back off for her to compete for the position. She is likely to vote for Senator Cooper.
With the arm-twisting and the pursuit of personal interest within the Unity Party increasing as special elections come up, many are worry over the future of the party after President Sirleaf.
By Othello B. Garblah