As Liberia gears up to conduct the 2020 Special Senatorial Election on December 08th, President George Manneh Weah’s ruling Coalition for Democrat Change (CDC) has reportedly settled down on names of three stalwarts of the Coalition to face one another in primary for the Montserrado County senatorial seat.
The three stalwarts include incumbent Montserrado County Electoral District #8 Representative Acarous Moses Gray, incumbent Montserrado County Electoral District #5 Representative Thomas Fallah and Commerce and Industry Minister, Professor Wilson Tarpeh.
Any one of the three emerging from the primary would face opposition Senator Abraham Darius Dillion of the Liberty Party. The ruling CDC incredibly lost to the Collaborating Political Parties last year June where Senator Dillon is a constituency member.
Until the lost Montserrado County had unarguably been the political stronghold of the Coalition for Democratic Change but the record turned when Dillon won the county with 55.74 percent of the total votes cast against CDC PaulitaWie’s 34.77 percent, one of the widest margin in contemporary time.
Notwithstanding, 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 take back Montserrado County in December ahead of the 2023 Presidential election.
Of the three individuals, Rep. Acarous Gray has won successive elections, earning him 12 years at the House of Representatives. Gray who is vice chairman for political affairs of the Coalition and acting chairman on the House committee on executive, also served as campaign spokesman for defeated senatorial candidate PualitaWie. He was secretary general of the Congress for Democratic Change under the chairmanship of the late Senator Geraldine Doe Sherif.
For his part, Representative Thomas Fallah is serving his third successive term (18 years) at the House of Representatives, making him to be among longest serving lawmakers in the Third Republic. Fallah is currently the CDC vice chairman for operations and chairman of the House of Representatives committee on Ways, Means, Finance and Budget.
Then comes Professor Wilson Tarpeh, who has built his political strength around the young intellectuals, especially, graduates and students of the state-owned University of Liberia. Prof. Tarpeh was massively whipped by the fallen Senator Geraldine Doe Sherif during the 2008 senatorial by-election.
Currently, he chairs the controversial COVID-19 food distribution committee. Information gathered within the corridor of the CDC headquarters in Congo Town says, Tarpeh was the favorite among the three, but his handling of the US$30 million stimulus food package, especially, the controversy around the raw cash has reduced the popularity of the university lecturer among party’s stalwarts and leaders.
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 had 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 Dillon the shortest-serving senator.
Senator Dillon’s 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 a joint resolution.
The money 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 amount was operational funds, 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.
Meanwhile, the CDC is expected to go for primary shortly. But the Coalition leadership under chairman Morlu didn’t respond to call for comment as his cell phone rang endlessly on several occasions.
By E. J. Nathaniel Daygbor–Editing by Jonathan Browne