Liberia: Speaker Chambers Faces Accusations of Inciting Violence

The Speaker of the House of Representative, Bhofal Chambers

…. "Chambers has been vehemently influencing and working to tamper with the results of the October polls, which put his major rival, Anthony Williams, in the lead as earlier announced by the National Elections Commission,” the leaders of Sodoken district alleged.

Speaker Bhofal Chambers is facing allegations of inciting violence in the Sodoken district of Maryland, stemming from his refusal to accept the results of the October 10th legislative election. 

The district leaders are claiming that Chambers' actions do not just undermine the country's democratic principles but also show a total disregard and lack of respect for the people's will. 

They added that if Chambers does not desist from his undemocratic notions and techniques deployed to jeopardize the "decision of the people," they will have no other alternative but to fearlessly and robustly campaign against the reelection of President Weah in the upcoming runoff elections in Pleebo Sodoken District and Maryland at large.

"We, as traditional people, citizens, and residents of Pleebo Sodoken District, want to inform you about the attempt of one of his officials, Speaker Chambers, to undermine the peace and democracy of Pleebo Sodoken District," the district leaders said in a statement.

"Chambers has been vehemently influencing and working to tamper with the results of the October polls, which put his major rival, Anthony Williams, in the lead as earlier announced by the National Elections Commission. In a democracy, the will of the people prevails and must be respected by everyone, regardless of their status in government or the country as a whole," the statement added.

The statement, signed by Nelson Neal, Chairman of the Districts Council of Chiefs and Elders, and others, comes as the bill of exception filed by the outgoing Speaker has been investigated and dismissed by the electoral body Board of Commissioners on grounds that it lacks substance and judicial proceedings.

The Speaker's loss to Williams makes him the first in the history of Liberia to fail in a reelection bid. His defeat mirrors the 2014 loss of President Pro-tempore Gbehnzongar Findley, marking a rare occurrence of both houses experiencing significant leadership changes. 

A formidable and influential figure in Liberian politics, the Speaker was seeking his fourth consecutive win since 2005 when he lost. He was one of the longest-serving legislators in the post-war history of Liberia, with a record-breaking 18 years of service in the national legislature, including six years as Speaker of the 54th national legislature.

During his opposition days, Chambers was known for being vocal against corruption and bad governance. He also firmly opposed some of the policies of former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. 

Williams, the Representative-elect of Sodoken District, according to official results announced from the National Elections Commission, obtained 8,105 votes (45.29%), while Chambers garnered 8,024 votes (44.84%). While the Speaker lost by a narrow margin, the district leaders believe that Williams has won their trust and confidence to represent them in the upcoming 55th legislature.

According to the district leaders, the Speaker's "actions to thwart the will of the people" are not in line with the principles of democracy; as such, the President should advise him to accept the "result and respect the will of the people." 

They stressed their support for the president and his ideology, reiterating how they overwhelmingly voted for him in the previous election and are determined to repeat the same in the upcoming runoff, but would change if the Speaker continues his actions.

"We stand by our words and commitment to President George Manneh Weah that if he doesn't call his officials to order, we will campaign through the length and breadth of Maryland County to reject him at the ballot box," the district leaders said. "The People's Voices must be heard, and their decision must be upheld and respected by whosoever."

"The gruesome behavior of Chambers as the third man in the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) led government is manifesting to us that this government does not uphold the principles of good governance," the leaders added.

They believe that the Speaker's actions are an attempt to blackmail and undermine the people's decision, as they seek international scrutiny to ensure a fair and transparent process.

Those who signed the statement include Neal, Christiana D. Walker, President of Rural Women; Thomas N. Kumah, President of Maryland Youth Association, and Thomas K. Nyemah, President of Pleebo Youth Association.