6 Contenders for Speaker

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(Clockwise) Rep. Hans Barchue; Rep.-elect Fonati Koffa; Rep. Edwin M. Snowe; Rep. Thomas Fallah; Rep. Prince Moye and Rep. Dr. Bhofal Chambers

Six names have emerged as candidates expressing their intentions to contest for  Speaker of House of Representatives.

The names include Deputy Speaker Hans Barchue (Independent); Ways, Means & Finance Chairman Prince Moye (UP) and Cllr. Fonati Koffa (newly elected Representative – (LP).

Others are former speaker Edwin M. Snowe (UP); former chairman of the House’s National Defense Committee Dr. Bhofal Chambers (CDC); and the Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee, Thomas Fallah (CDC).

According to sources among the six persons, there would be fierce competition among four candidates, namely Reps. Barchue, Moye, Snowe and Representative-elect Koffa.

The elections of Speaker, Deputy Speaker and other officers (including the Chief Clerk, Deputy Chief Clerk, and Sergeant-at-arms) are in consonance with the Liberian Constitution and the Rules and Regulations of the House of Representative.

Article 49 of the Constitution says: “The House of Representatives shall elect once every six years a Speaker who shall be the presiding officer of that body, a Deputy Speaker, and such other officers as shall ensure the proper functioning of the House. The speaker, the Deputy Speaker, and other officers so elected may be removed from office for cause by resolution of a two-thirds majority of the members of the House.”

Furthermore, rule six (6) of the House of Representatives, states: “Every six years, on the first day of Session, the Chief Clerk, whose term of Office shall not expire until his/her successor is elected, shall call the House to order, conduct devotions, and announce to the Members present that the House is without a Speaker and a Deputy Speaker. The Members then shall elect one of their members as Speaker to serve for a term of six years.

“The Chief Clerk shall then appoint a Special Committee, which shall escort the Speaker to his seat, and the Chief Clerk shall then retire. On the same day, the Deputy Speaker shall be elected to serve a term of six years. The Speaker shall then direct that a message be sent to the Senate and President of the Republic of Liberia informing them that a quorum of the House has been established, that a new Speaker and Deputy Speaker have been elected and that members have been given the oath of office and that the House is ready to conduct legislative business and is prepared to receive any communication from the Senate or the President.”

So far, Deputy Speaker Barchue, Rep. Prince Moye, Representative-elect  Fonati Koffa, Reps. Bhofal Chambers and Thomas Fallah have announced their intentions to run for Speaker,” one source said, identifying the first three as the strongest candidates.

“Though Rep. Snowe has publicly said recently in an interview that he doesn’t have any direct interest, but if his party (UP) nominates him, he would contest for Speaker,” another source said.

“For reasons related to accumulated legislative experience, political charisma and eccentric lobbying influence, Reps. Barchue, Snowe, Moye, and Rep. elect Koffa are so far the strongest candidates,” according to insiders.

“Rep. Chambers and Fallah are out of the race despite their party’s having more seats but it is obvious that their party would support a collaborating Representative,” another source said.

Rep. Hans Barchue

Deputy Speaker Hans Barchue

Mr. Barchue served as Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives from 2011 to the present. He was re-elected as Grand Bassa County District # 1 Representative. He is also a Certified Accountant. His bid to replace Speaker J. Alex Tyler, under whom he served as Deputy Speaker for five years, was unsuccessful despite being the “host” of those who unseated former Speaker Tyler. His dream was dashed when his fellow lawmakers overwhelmingly elected J. Emmanuel Nuquay as Speaker.

“He felt robbed of the Speakership after they ousted former Speaker Tyler, so he is coming, believing to be the only qualified person to be the Speaker and he is collaborating with Liberty Party,” according to a Daily Observer source.

Rep. Prince Moye

Upon his election in 2011 as Bong County District # 2 Representative, Rep. Moye was appointed as Co-Chairman to the Committee on Ways, Means, and Finance. His appointment was short-lived because of a political strife with his immediate boss J. Emmanuel Nuquay, chairman of the Committee on Ways, Means and Finance and the then Speaker – J. Alex Tyler.

After nearly four years, he was appointed as chairman of the Committee on Ways, Means and Finance when his former boss ascended to the Speakership.

He is also an accountant, and an executive member of the ruling Unity Party. He has tribal influence. It is obvious that the UP and the People’s Unification Party (PUP) are in collaboration, which means they would have more votes.

Rep-elect Cllr. Fonati Koffa

Representative-elect Cllr. Fonati Koffa

He is the former chairman of the Liberty Party and prior to the election, he served as Minister of State without Portfolio. He is one of Liberia’s respected legal minds who is heading the Special Presidential Task Force set up by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf to probe the Global Witness bribery scandal which hooked several officials of the Liberian Government and other prominent individuals.

The Task Force is also investigating those who have been booked by the General Audit Commission (GAC), the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission and other anti-graft institutions.

Besides his ties with the LP, he also has ties with the newly elected independent Representatives .

Rep. Edwin Snowe

Ex-Speaker Edwin Snowe

Rep. Snowe is the only former Speaker among the six contenders, and the only short-lived democratically elected Speaker under the Ellen-led government because of his “sour relationship” with the Executive.

He served as chairman of the House Rules, Order and Administration. Snowe is the chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs and currently one of the three Representatives of the House to represent the country in the ECOWAs Parliament.

He served twice as Representative of Montserrado County District # 6 as an independent candidate and was recently re-elected as Representative, in Bomi County, District # 1, as a UP candidate. Pundits believe him to have the most political charisma. UP has to decide between him and Rep. Prince Moye.

Dr. Bhofal Chambers and Rep. Thomas Fallah

Rep. Dr. Bhofal Chambers

Both men are executive members of the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) and serving their 3rd terms, respectively. Dr. Chambers represents Maryland County District # 2, while Rep. Fallah is from Montserrado County District # 5.

Neither of the two Representatives have the political charisma and the eccentric lobbying ability but solely depend on their party’s influence, which probably would affect their chances if the CDC would lean to support a collaborating party’s candidate or an individual who has better political charisma. Either way, the CDC has to decide between the two if the party decides to take the Speakership.

NEC’s Certification determines the 54th Legislature

The National Elections Commission (NEC) is expected to certificate members of the House of Representatives next month, to qualify them for the 54th Legislature.

If the NEC does not qualify the incumbents and the newly elected Representatives, it means that there won’t be members of the House of Representatives and to an extent, there will no Legislature, because neither can do the business of the Republic of Liberia nor convene without the other, according to Articles 29 and 41.

“The Legislative power of the Republic shall be vested in the Legislature of Liberia which shall consist of two separate houses: A Senate and a House of Representatives, both of which must pass on all legislation,” Article 29 states, and 41 also states: “Neither House shall adjourn (also open for business) for more than five days without the consent of the other ….”

15 COMMENTS

  1. Rep-elect Cllr. Fonati Koffa has a criminal history. He should not be Speaker of the House because he is a convicted criminal in North Carolina, United States. Please google “fonati koffa criminal usa” and you will see how this criminal was convicted.

    • This fellow never should have been elected to the House of Representatives in the first place. And, for heaven’s sake, through what telescope does the Observer see him as “one of Liberia’s respected legal minds”?

    • I would think the standards which apply to one being a member of the lower, also apply to the Speaker. Or is Cllr Fonati Koffa case different?

  2. In all sincerity, the convoluted political instability in Liberia will once again plunge our country in a state of stagnation. Internationally, lending institutions will be dubious, if not ambivalent as they do business with us.

  3. If the November 10 elections did not go well because of widespread fraud, why are the newly elected members of the Lower and Upper Houses eager to be sworn in?

    Ladies and gentlemen, when the patriotic Liberians went to the polls to cast their ballot on 10/10, voters did not differentiate between presidential candidates and legislative candidates. The voters did what they were supposed to do…..they voted!

    Why are presidential ballots being cancelled and not legislative ballots?

    These are some of the worst trying times of country.

  4. The executive branch got nothing to do with your legislative speakers ship. The Presidential election is not ready yet. One of either, Re-run or run-off, will soon be executed. Do not put your House of Representative , legislative affairs near this Mansion until you find your new speaker. If you try without a speaker, you will see Liberians Supreme Court’s cutlass. Decide your own law making rule of laws on your own in capitol building house. The Executive branch executes the laws of Liberia. The Judicial branch interprets the Liberian laws. No stealing functions here again. Instruments watching now. Do you want instrument or cutlass? Answer the Liberian people. Do not reply this box.
    Gone to silent majority for rice and okra soup.

  5. As I have often said, Liberia is the only Nation on earth where criminals and looters are praised and elected to positions of prominence and trust, while good men and women in society are vilified. Those named above as potential speaker of our Nation speaks volumes of what it says about who we are and what we stand for as a people.

    Sadly, Liberians are not ready for critical and forward thinking-patriotic leadership. If the majority can sing, “you kill my Pa, you kill my Ma, I will vote for you,” what else can be strange about most Liberians? No wonder why we have become the laughing stock of the region and the world! Those named are either criminals implicated in corruption or convicted criminals.

  6. With the mighty CDC DOMINATING THE HOUSE, of course CDC PARTISANS IN THE HOUSE should ensure that the Speaker is a CDCIAN! MAJORITY RULE!

    As for convicted criminal Fonati Kofa, he sbould only be the laughing stock. As for corrupt Edwin Snowe, he fails to realize his being a Speaker would bring dishonor to THE LEGISLATURE. 2018 CANNOT BE 2006.

  7. Our’s won’t become an economically viable state until compensation packages at the upper echelons of the three branches of government and state – owned corporations are seriously reduced so that a third of annual budget isn’t spent on payroll whIle the vast majority Country – Congua downtrodden undergo life – denying poverty on top of deaths from preventable diseases. If the past is prologue, as the cliche goes, all six of these Representatives aren’t interested in the speakership position to serve, it is the ridiculous bonanza more than US million dollar annual spoils that attracts them. Definitely, Liberia would be beset with government versus populace confrontations; government and mass media adversarial relationship; and public – police mutuall hostility until a new political leadership immediately tackle the contentious issue of stabilizing those salaries and allowances.

    Regardless of bad precedents and lack of recent role models, politics is a route someone chooses to actually serve one’s constituents and country, not a business to get rich quickly. For instance, Mr. Wilmot Collins the Liberian – American elected Mayor of Helena in Montana, US won’t be imagining bags of money. Voters expect him to work towards improving the city. No one needs money or gifts from him; they just want the city mayor and council members to deliver legally and ethically on the platform upon which they were elected.

    Apart from being told, Liberians know the country is “rich, but poorly run”; Liberians also know that they are governable; so why then the division, polarization and malicious hatred? It boils down to self – centeredness, and self – glorification. It is sad that concern over evident indicators of instability has made some of us unnecessarily preachy; but, folks, how strongly can one alarm about the dangerous distrust, disarray, and downward drift of our Republic? You tell me by replying to this comment, and thanks.

  8. The house should use the standard or criteria that merits for the speaker position to elect the speaker that would diligently discharge his function and make the house of more interest in debating issues. However, I would prefer the ruling party gets the speaker-ship given fact that they got the majority. But I wonder if any of the so-called collaborating minority reps. get it, how would the ruling party who is in majority cope with getting a legislation smoothly pass? Anyway, that Liberia politics-where compensation is the order of the day.

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