Another death has hit the Liberian Senate.
With a little more than a year left to complete his nine-year term as Senior Senator of Grand Cape Mount County, Edward Boakai Dagoseh has died. A source close to the late senator’s office confirmed his death to the Daily Observer late Saturday, June 1, and said he expired at the Kingdom Care Hospital in Paynesville, due to cancer.
Like the late Sen. Doe-Sherif, Senator Dagoseh was frail and bed-ridden for a protracted period and had sought life-saving treatment in Ghana and India.
There was a glimmer of hope for him during the time of Sen. Doe-Sherif’s death, when Dagoseh, who had been absent from the Senate during part of the time she had been absent, finally returned to session despite his frailty. On the brink of tears, Dagoseh was overheard recalling how Sen. Doe-Sherif used to go to his sick bed and encourage him to get well, joking that she and her colleagues were not ready for another funeral. “Unfortunately, my friend has passed,” he told his colleagues at the time.
Confirming how dire his health condition had become, legislative sources noted that, “it was just a matter of time.”
Dagoseh was elected to the Senate in 2011 and took office during the seating of the 53rd Legislature in January 2012. He was the founding chairman of the Public Account and Expenditure Committee of the Legislature and former chairman of the Senate Committee on Ways, Means, Finance & Budget. Up to the time of his death, he was chairman of the Grand Cape Mount County Legislative Caucus.
Despite his illness, Senator Dagoseh was seeking reelection in the upcoming mid-term Senatorial Election in 2020, at the end of his first nine-year term.
Montserrado County District #17 Representative Hanson Kiazolu, who had also declared his intention to run for the senatorial post occupied by Dagoseh in the 2020 Senatorial Election, described the late senator as “a fallen cotton tree” and his death, “an irreplaceable loss” to Liberia.
In 2016, the African Organization for Public Accounts Committee (AFROPAC), a pan-African network of Parliamentary Public Accounts Committees, elected Senator Dagoseh as its chair, to steer the affairs of the body for a period of four years. He replaced fellow parliamentarian Alfred Wol Malith, of South Sudan, who had served the body since 2012. Dagoseh’s election, held in September 2016, came at the end of the second Annual General Meeting and Conference of the continental body, where the Senator had already been representing Liberia.
Previously, Senator Dagoseh had served on a regional level as Chairman of the West Africa Chapter of the Association of Public Accounts Committees.
As Chairman of AFROPAC, Senator Dagoseh supervised the organization’s services to African Parliaments and their committees dealing with public accounts. One of his key responsibilities was to set a clear mutual understanding of Public Accounts Committees (PAC) in Africa, and also coordinate all parliamentary Public Accounts Committees and Committees with similar functions on the continent.
In that capacity, one of the key issues Senator Dagoseh tried to address was illicit financial flows, especially the concealment of income from tax authorities (tax evasion). He described illicit financial flows as a “nemesis” and stressed that tackling it requires strong international commitment, cooperation, and concerted actions by countries, the private sector and civil society.
Meanwhile, Senator Dagoseh was among the 8 senators suspended from the Unity Party (UP) in early April 2019, in connection with the impeachment verdict handed down against Associate Justice Kabineh M. Ja’neh. Other suspended UP senators include former party chairman Varney H. Sherman (also of Grand Cape Mount), Morris Saytumah (Bomi), George Tengbeh (Lofa), Thomas Grupee (Nimba), Alphonso Gaye (Grand Gedeh), Matthew Jaye (River Gee) and Milton Teahjay (Sinoe).
“The impeachment of Associate Justice Ja’neh was unconstitutional and the party had communicated with all of its senators to vote against such impeachment as it was only intended to undermine our democracy and strengthen the dictatorship that President Weah is practicing,” the UP said.
However, the voting record for the impeachment verdict was never released.
The death of Senator Edward Boakai Dagoseh is the second in the Senate and the third in the 54th Legislature, during the administration of President George M. Weah. Before Dagoseh’s, were the deaths of Montserrado County Senator Geraldine Doe-Sherif and Montserrado County District #15 Representative Adolph Lawrence, both of who died earlier this year.
Amid tremendous economic and political pressures in the country at the moment, especially with the Weah Administration being called out by Liberia’s bilateral partners over the misuse or or improper handling of donor funds, the government is saddled with the expense of yet another a by-election and possibly a state funeral. The by-election to be held as a result of the passing of Senator Dagoseh would be the seventh by-election in less than two years since President Weah took office.
David A. Yates and Leroy M. Sonpon, III contributed to this report.