The Collaborating Political Parties has been projected to gain control of the Liberian Senate after winning three seats clearly with three others projected in their sight.
In 2018, the CPP was in control of 13 seats in the Senate, while the ruling CDC had seven, and the remaining 10 seats were shared among independent candidates.
However, CPP lawmakers over the time have voted along the agenda of the ruling CDC of President Weah and did little to checkmate the Executive or to properly critique bills coming from the presidency or the ruling party-dominated Hosue of Representatives.
According to the National Elections Commission, based on the completion of tally in these counties, the CPP has so far won Bong, Grand Bassa, River Gee and Grand Cape Mount Counties but lost in Bomi and Margibi Counties to independent candidates.
The electoral body’s results also put the CPP in the lead in Lofa and Montserrado Counties and slightly behind in Nimba County. While the ruling CDC is projected to clearly win Grand Gedeh and Maryland counties it is thrilling in Gbarpolu and Grand Kru counties, the home of the President.
With visible signs that the CPP can take Montserrado and Lofa counties, the probability is high that it might end up with 13 or 14 seats in the 30-member Senate, while the CDC is projected to get only 6 seats. Independent candidates are expected to get the rest. Currently, the CPP has seven seats that are not contested for, while the CDC has only three.
If this ends up as the case, the CPP might be able to influence the Senate Pro-Tempore election and grab that position in January 2021. It is currently occupied by Albert Chie, a member of the ruling party.
This recent special senatorial election was a referendum on the Liberian leader, his policies, and for politicians who have tied their fortunes to the President, despite him not being on the ballot paper. And to keep the Senate leaning towards the CDC, President Weah was on the campaign trail, motivating his party base to vote for the ruling party’s candidates, no matter their disagreement with the party.
The President’s mandate that must be met — “party discipline,” he calls it — came with a threat to punish partisan officials of his administration who will vote contrary to the mandate. Also, in a bid to woo voters, the President and his party embarked on the dedication of long-term projects, as well as quick impact ones.
A strong showing for the President party would have given him the impression that the country is headed in the right direction, and emboldened the President to forcefully push for changes in the way he wants to govern the country.
But that might likely not be the case as the opposition CPP now set to take control of the senate, by winning 6 of the 15 seats so far and, with such win, his administration’s agenda could be up for a “mid-term review” by the opposition, and heavily scrutinize every move his administration makes.
A unified opposition controlling the Senate might force the President to nominate more competent technocrats to his cabinet, and some of his development agenda might end up stranded, especially where debt financing is concerned.
Of the five counties, which results have been declared so far, two surprising winners are Wellington Geevon Smith, a veteran Liberian Journalist and former Superintendent of Rivercess County and Jonathan Boycharles Sogbie, a former and retired national football team player.
Sogbie, who hails from River Gee County and contested on the ticket of the CPP, obtained 4,972 votes; constituting 33.59 percent. Prior to his victory, he served as the Public Relations Officer (PRO) for the National Oil Company of Liberia (NOCAL). The Liberian soccer star played alongside George Manneh Weah and James Salinsa Debbah. Debbah also contested the Montserrado Electoral District #9 Representative by-election seat.
Wellington Geevon Smith has in recent times worked as Director of Communications and Public Affairs at the National Identification Registry. Smith contested as an independent candidate and obtained 3,284 votes constituting 23.45 percent while his closest rival, Steve Tequah, also an independent candidate, obtained 3168 votes, constituting 22.62 percent.
In Grand Bassa, Senator, Nyongblee Karnga-Lawrence retained her seat after defeating former Foreign Minister, Gbehzohngar Milton Findley.
Sen. Karnga-Lawrence, standard bearer of Liberty Party, contested on the CPP ticket and won with 22,476 votes, constituting 42.1 percent of the total votes of 56, 89, while Findley, received 20,346 votes, constituting 38.03 percent. At the Senate, she will be serving a second term of 9 years tenure as a lone female Senator in case no other female wins any of the remaining Counties whose counting and tallying processes are yet to be completed.
Sen. Karnga-Lawrence first came to the Senate in a by-election following the death of then Grand Bassa County Senator John Whitfield in a by-election in 2013 following Whitfield’s demise.
As for Montserrado County, NEC has reported that Senator Abraham Darius Dillon of CPP has increased his lead against Thomas Pangar Fallah of the ruling party. According to NEC, Sen. Dillion has so far accumulated 169,334 votes, representing 61.28 percent while his closest opponent, Rep. Fallah, has obtained 114,590 votes, representing 35.77 percent.
When the CPP wins in Montserrado, the political central point of the country with the highest population, it would send a clear and crisp message to President Weah and his followers that his popularity has declined. This could also be indicative of how much deadweight the party is putting on the President’s image, thus diminishing his brand.
In Bomi County, Rep. Edwin Melvin Snowe of Electoral District #1 is now the next Senator in waiting after defeating Sando Johnson of the CPP and Alex Tyler of the CDC. NEC’s report shows that Snowe has obtained 16,476 votes constituting 53.97 percent while his closest rival, former Speaker Alex Tyler obtained 8,834, constituting 28.9 percent.
Snowe was a two-term Representative in Montserrado District #6. He moved to Bomi and contested for same position in 2017 and won after several legal battles with the then incumbent Bomi District #1 Representative, Gaya Karmo and outgoing Senator, Sando Dazoe Johnson.
NEC’s report also indicates that Bong County District #2 Representative, Prince Kermue Moye, defeated incumbent Senator Henry Yallah and all other contestants in the race. Rep. Moye, who currently serves as Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, obtained 39,337 votes, constituting 51.28 percent. He contested on the ticket of CPP. His closest rival, Senator Henry Yallah of the CDC, obtained 25,247 votes constituting 32.91 percent.