Grand Bassa County Representative Hans Barchu won the deputy speakership, defeating Eugene Fallah Kparka by 24 votes, 41 to 17. Dr. Gbofal Chambers of Maryland County garnered only 12 votes.
In the race for Senate Pro-Tempore, Senator Milton Gbezohngar Findley of Grand Bassa County narrowly defeated Senator Jewel Howard Taylor by a tally of 15 to 14 votes. Senator Taylor, the former wife of former President Charles Taylor, seemed visibly saddened by the result.
The National Legislature was tense throughout the vote, with lawmakers meeting in small clusters to discuss strategy and alliances. The candidates were given five minutes to plead their case prior to the voting.
After the results came in, Tyler prevailed upon lawmakers to work together while considering legislation.
“My plea to you now members, colleagues, brothers and sisters, is to put Liberia first,” he said. “That shall be my objective.”
But some who observed the process expressed concern that the results had placed too much power in the hands of the Unity Party, and that some counties – namely Bomi and Grand Bassa – would be favored because of their high-level representatives.
Speaking after Tyler was re-elected House Speaker, Prince Suah, a student at the University of Liberia, said, “The political positions in the country are not geographically balanced. What would happen to bills that need no passage but the President wants them passed? It means the House will not have the second thought but will pass them to the detriment of the masses.”
But Joseph Saye Guannu, a professor of political science at Cuttington University, said the fact that Tyler and President Sirleaf are from the same county was merely coincidence.
“The election of Speaker Tyler means he is performing his duties to the satisfaction of the people,” he said. “President and Speaker from the same county do not matter because both positions are elected positions. It would have been questionable if it were an appointed position.”
Toweh, a member of Prince Johnson’s National Union for Democratic Progress, had run on a platform of reconciliation, and had drawn support from high-level partisans of the Congress for Democratic Change, including Secretary-General Acarous Gray.
Speaker Tyler extended a call to his defeated rival, Ricks Toweh, to rise above defeat and work with him, intoning that defeat and victory in elections are characteristics of democracy and any group that believes in democratic principles should accept any of these outcomes.
He said the 52nd legislature had demonstrated cooperation among all parties, something he hoped would continue. He therefore called on his colleagues to lend their support to him as they begin another six-year term of work, assuring that he will avail himself to all and will not be conservative and self-centered.