Liberia: House Inducts 4 New Members

Rep. Tequah, Rep. Williams, Rep. Manseah, and Rep. Banks take seats but two seats are still vacant

Four new members of the House of Representatives have been certified by the National Elections Commission (NEC) and subsequently inducted by the leadership of the Lower House.

Those inducted include Rep. J. Clarence T. Banks of Grand Bassa County District #2 (Independent); Rep. Ernest Manseah of Nimba County District #4 (Movement for Democracy and Reconstruction); Rep. Steve Tequah of Rivercess County District #2 Rivercess County (Independent), and Alexander Williams of Maryland County District #2 (Collaborating of Political Parties).

The four Representatives joined the already seated 67 members, bringing the total to 71. This means two seats are still outstanding. They took the Oath of Affirmation over the weekend, officially making them members of the 55th Legislature. 

The oath of office reads: “I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the Republic of Liberia against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me, God.” 

All four who were inducted were challenged in court over alleged electoral fraud but were vindicated through recounts or reruns, in the cases of Reps. Manseah and Williams. 

Rep. Banks whipped two-term Representative Mary Karwor, while Rep. Steve Tequah also defeated two-term incumbent lawmaker Byron Zahnweah of the Unity Party. 

The independent lawmaker, Rep. Tequah, was challenged in court by Madam Ruth Sawmadal of the Coalition of Democratic Change (CDC) and was declared the winner after a recount in 11 centers. 

Rep. Manseah and incumbent Garpue Kargon did a rerun in two polling places in Precinct Beo Lontuo, Electoral District#4, Nimba County. After the rerun, Rep. Manseah maintained his victory over incumbent Kargon. 

Student activist Anthony Williams whipped Speaker Bhofal Chamber in Maryland County District #2. He also maintained his victory after the rerun in two polling places only, Precinct Code #27020 in Old Sodoken. 

Meanwhile, the two outstanding seats are Grand Bassa County District #5 and Grand Gedeh County District #1. 

In Grand Bassa District #5, the Supreme Court has issued an order for a recount of all the ballots cast in District #5, Grand Bassa County, during the October 10 legislative election. This decision comes as the court continues to hear challenges regarding legislative elections conducted on October 10, 2023. 

The request for a recount was made by Christine Juah Settro Dennis of the Unity Party (UP) for specific precincts, including the Old Camp, Zono Town, and Gbowee precincts. 

Madam Dennis, who appealed the election results, claimed that voters were denied their right to vote in the Zono precinct as the supervisor closed the center after 6 p.m., even though many voters were still waiting in line. She also raised concerns about polling places in the Old Camp, Zono, and Gbowee areas, where she alleged that voters were denied entry and police were called to remove voters from the premises. 

Additionally, she stated that the ballot boxes arrived late in the Gbowee area, causing many voters to leave before they could cast their votes. In light of these allegations, the Supreme Court has ordered a recount and will reassess the situation to ensure a fair and accurate representation of the voters’ choices in District #5, Grand Bassa County. 

According to them, the appellant alleged that there were alterations and inconsistencies in the Representative Records of the Counts in two polling places in District #5, but failed to produce the Representative Record of the Counts to substantiate her allegation, “same cannot be sustained,” the court said. 

The candidate from the Collaborating Political Parties (CPP), Thomas Goshua, won the election with 49 votes. The court battle continues. 

Grand Gedeh District #1 seat is still vacant following the death of Grand Gedeh County District #1 Representative Erol Madison Gwion, Sr. He was 59. 

He died on December 4, 2023, nine days after his birthday (November 25) and four days before his official certification by the National Elections Commission. 

His death created the very first vacancy within the 55th. The Grand Gedeh Representative met his demise in Ghana, where he was flown for advanced medical treatment. 

Gwion was a member of the House of Representatives of the 54th Legislature. He succeeded Senator Zoe Emmanuel Pennue, who was elected to the Senate after having represented the district for two-and-a-half terms (2006 to 2020).