Liberia: CDC Nominates Rep. Koffa for Speakership

Deputy Speaker J. Fonati Koffa

The outgoing ruling party, the Coalition of Democracy Change (CDC), has nominated Deputy Speaker, Cllr. J. Fonati Koffa, as its candidate for the Speakership of the incoming 55th Legislature. 

The election for Speaker of the House of Representatives is expected to take place on January 15, 2024, the 2nd working Monday of the new year.

In a meeting on Friday, December 1, at the party’s headquarters in Congo Town, CDC chairman Mulbah Morlu announced that after consultation with the party’s executives and legislative caucus, it has endorsed the candidacy of Koffa, the Representative for Grand Kru County District 2, to contest in the Speakership Election.

“After extensive internal consultations between the National Executive Committee and the CDC legislative caucus, the party has concluded that, given the thin nature of the election returns, a balanced government regionally and politically is in the best interest of the Liberian people. In this light, the party intends to support its caucus’s quest for the speaker position and has endorsed the candidacy of Cllr. J. Fonati Koffa, a well-balanced political and regional partisan, as its sole candidate for speaker,” Morlu said. “Therefore, we are calling on all independents and like-minded members of the incoming 55th legislature to support Cllr. koffa as the consensus candidate.”

Prior to the ruling coalition’s decision, President George Weah expressed his intention to support Koffa’s bid for the position of Speaker. However, this is subject to an election dispute associated with outgoing speaker Bhofal Chambers, who is yet to accept the October 10, 2023 election result despite the National Elections Commission’s results for Maryland County District #2 showing that he lost.

Weah called for unity within the CDC, urging its representatives to ensure that the Grand Kru County lawmaker emerges victorious come January 15. 

“I recognized that we were defeated because we defeated ourselves and had no need to fight. We are going to elections for the Speakership and President Pro Tempore of the Senate, and we still continue to do the same thing that led to our defeat without considering the theory of succession,” Weah said in a special statement at his Forky Klon Church on Sunday, November 26.   

He stressed that unity is crucial for the CDC to secure positions such as the Speakership and President Pro Tempore in the 55th legislature — as he called for the recalibration within the party ranks.

in a statement on Saturday, December 2, following his endorsement, Koffa thanked the party for their confidence reposed in him but stressed that as a Speaker, he he will not turn the gavel into a partisan legislature simply because they are in opposition.

He promised that he would be robust if given the speakership mandate and that, under his gavel, accountability and transparency will definitely be ensured. In his first 100 days, he promised to install electronic voting in the House of Representatives.

“The ruling government can trust me as a Speaker because I will work in the national interest,” Koffa said.

The Deputy Speaker also told journalists that he has billed himself as a bridge builder and is poised to work with other national stakeholders to preach unity in the deeply divided country.

However, the CDC Caucus’s decision to support Cllr. Koffa over Rep. Thomas Fallah for the Speaker position has caused 12 Representatives supporting the new Lofa County District #1 Representative to join the 40-member bloc of Cllr. Koffa, putting the total at 52.

The membership of the House of Representatives is 73, and a candidate needs a simple majority of 37 to win. “He knows everyone very well, does a great job of bringing people together and helping and he is a policy and institutional-oriented person. And that’s what we need right now,” Rep. Ellen Attoh Wreh of Margibi said. Her statement was buttressed by 38 other lawmakers who gathered at the Deputy Speaker’s Brewersville residence to endorse him.

Meanwhile, Deputy Speaker Koffa is a lawyer, a Juris Doctor — who previously served as chairman for the Liberty Party (LP). During the second term of President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, he served as Minister without Portfolio and led the Special Presidential Task Force to investigate the Sable Mining Case — the company’s alleged attempt to acquire an iron ore concession in northern Liberia after the watchdog group, Global Witness, made accusations of wrong-doing in a report.

Having lost his first attempt at the Grand Kru County District #2 Representative seat  in the 2011 elections, Cllr. Koffa recalibrated and was elected in 2017.

From 2018 to January 11, 2021, he served as chairman of the Judiciary Committee of the House of Representatives, and from January 11, 2021, up to the present, Cllr. Koffa has served as Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives.

If elected Speaker, Cllr. Koffa, 60, will make history as the first Representative to be Deputy Speaker and subsequently elected as Speaker.

Cllr. Koffa is married to Mrs. Dama Yekeson-Koffa — a Mandingo from Lofa County. She is the daughter of the former president of the University of Liberia and Cuttington University — the late Dr. Stephen M. Yekeson. The union of Representative and Mrs. Koffa is blessed with three children; two girls and a boy.

Koffa’s father, the late Major General Stephen Koffa, served as Deputy Chief of Staff in the Armed Forces of Liberia and was honorably retired and commissioned to serve as an Ambassador for Liberia to France. He died a diplomat.

The Deputy Speaker’s mother, Margaret Mona Koffa, was a schoolteacher. She died at age 89 in the early evening of February 3, 2022.