The final results of the just ended Special Senatorial Election seem to foreshadow a steep journey ahead for President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, as many of her fellow partisans who fought unsuccessfully to maintain their incumbency in the Senate will no longer be around.
Among the 12 senators that stood for reelection, only two return, causing the Executive Mansion to lose about seven strong confidants from the team which was considered “the engine of Madam Sirleaf’s legislative success story” on Capitol Hill.
Even though senators Isaac W. Nyenabo, Frederick D.Cherue and Cletus S. Wortoson of Grand Gedeh, River Gee and Grand Kru counties, respectively, did not seek reelection, their absence from the Senate clearly indicates the difficult circumstances the President has to struggle with while trying to make new friends in an effort to replace them.
Particularly for Senator Isaac Nyenabo, who now leads Liberia’s agenda at the level of Ambassador to the European Union (EU) and Brussels, Madam Sirleaf will certainly miss his skillfull navigation of the Legislature and ability to lobby to manipulate and achieve the interest of the President.
Losing the three influential personalities may not pain the presidency so much as losing a stalwart and “diehard” supporter like Gbehzohngar M. Findley of Grand Bassa County. Senator Findley, who served for the past several years as President Pro-Tempore of the Senate, collected 10,306 votes amounting to 36.3% from behind leader, Jonathan L. Kaipay who got 16,296 or 57.4%. This could spell real “danger” for President Sirleaf’s legislative agenda, something which is greatly needed in order to revive an already staggering legacy before the end of her second and final term in 2017.
Kaipay comes from the Liberty Party, an organization believed to share a ‘mutual window’ with the Unity Party regime; and with that, many believe that winning him to the President’s side may just be a matter of time.
With the arrival of pretty 'unfamiliar' but critical faces in the Liberian Senate for the third sitting of the 53rd Legislature, Madam Sirleaf is struggling to establish herself amongst the new senators-elect before they take seats in January 2015. According to reliable sources, the President’s Office has been engaged with placing calls to few senators-elect and having lengthy discussions, while the National Elections Commission (NEC) has been chased for contact details of other senators-elect with whom the President does not have close interaction.
Lofa County Senator Sumo G. Kupee, formerly of Unity Party, was reportedly ill-treated by UP, forcing him to seek refuge in the People’s Unification Party (PUP). He lost to Stephen J. H. Zargo, 6,288 to 12,797.
As for Maryland County John A. Ballout, one of the President’s closest confidants, who could not retain his seat, went down to former Superintendent Gbleh-bo Brown 877 to 5,192 votes. Even though UP could not give him their support, but the former UP Senator Jonathan J. Banney, a friend of Madam Sirleaf, could not stop Representative Francis Paye of National Democratic Congress (NDC) from clinching victory with 1,959 votes of the 9,176 votes cast.
Margibi Senator Clarice Jah couldn’t do much to showcase her dominance as the Liberty Party seat was surrendered to new comer, Womba J. Tornonlah 7,893 to 1,967. Senator Jah chaired the Senate Executive Committee, a position she used to get closer to Madam Sirleaf.
However, the Executive Committee position might likely return to presidential control with the arrival of Daniel Naatehn, who beat incumbent Theodore Momo 3,962 to 1,431 of votes cast.
Interestingly, UP chairman Varney G. Sherman secured victory in Grand Cape Mount County with 13,651 votes, thereby placing him in a comfortable position to lead the Senate as President Pro-Tempore.
The charisma is there, but old senators are skeptical of his alignment with Madam Sirleaf and believe offering him the job might be a replica of Findley, who was many times threatened with removal based on his ties with the Chief Executive.