LP, ANC clash
With some level of assurance now that the special senatorial election that may retain 15 Senators or remove them is scheduled for December this year, confusion has begun to emerge between two members of the four Collaborating Political Parties (CPP) over which of them has the legitimacy in line with their collaborating arrangement to present a candidate in vote-rich Nimba County.
Of recent, information has circulated that the CPP was considering Taa Wongbe of the Alternative National Congress (ANC) as a contestant among other candidates in Nimba, but this choice seems to be meeting resistance as former Superintendent and two-time contestant, Edith Gongloe-Weh of the Liberty Party (LP), is favored by her party to politically fight for the seat.
Liberty Party Secretary-General Jacobs Smith on local radio in Ganta said that the CPP has reached a consensus that at least five women be among the candidates they are going to select for the upcoming senatorial election. Also, a member of the CPP and Secretary for Press and Propaganda of the Unity Party, Mo Ali, said the CPP has not come up with a definite decision as to who will represent the collaboration in Nimba.
According to Ali, CPP’s technical working committee is to meet shortly to come up with a consensus and, if there will be no consensus, the CPP will take another measure in line with the framework document — that is to conduct a primary to decide which party produces a candidate in Nimba.
An election being about popularity and the person with the cash to spend drives politicians to carefully select who will make a mark in terms of drawing voters. According to Jacob Smith, while they contemplate on which woman to run on the ticket of CPP, Madam Edith Gongloe-Weh is more popular and has the charisma and capability to contest on the CPP ticket in the county.
Madam Gongloe-Weh contested for the Senate in 2011 and was slightly beaten by the incumbent, Senator Thomas Grupee, through the popularity of the defunct National Union for Democratic Progress (NUDP) of Senator Prince Y. Johnson. In 2014 she again contested for the Senate against the incumbent, Senator Prince Y. Johnson, who whipped all contestants including Gongloe-Weh in that election.
Based on the two encounters, Smith contended that Madam Gongloe-Weh is more popular than Taa Wongbe, whose presence only began to be felt of late.
Following the interview with Smith, ANC Secretary, Cllr. Aloysius Toe, refuted the statement; arguing that the consensus reached by the technical committee of the four collaborating parties called for dividing the five largest counties among CPP members, with Nimba County going to ANC, Lofa to UP, Margibi to ALP and Grand Bassa to LP, along with Montserrado, already secured by Abraham Darius Dillon of LP.
Earlier, Smith had stated that the four political parties have not reached any consensus to support a particular candidate in the “Larger counties.”
Cllr. Toe also said while it is true that they all agreed to have at least five women among the candidates they would field, it does not mean that they have agreed to support Edith Gongloe-Weh as a candidate for Nimba.
Toe further explained that the consensus reached by CPP does not allow any of the political parties to carry more than four counties as Liberty Party already has four counties including Montserrado, Grand Bassa, Rivercess, and Grand Kru.
Cllr Toe noted that if the Liberty Party sets this precedence, other parties will follow suit, which will certainly result in each party fielding its own candidate in every county instead of observing the framework of the CPP.
The Nimba County political scene is becoming very hot and crowded daily, with the numbers of prospective candidates up to at least seven, at the last count. Those who have put their hats in the race include incumbent Senator Thomas Grupee, Representative Jeremiah Koung, Taa Wongbe, immediate former Superintendent David Dorr Cooper, Madam Edith Weh, former Representative Garrison Yealue and former Senator Adolphus Saye Taryor Dolo.
Among these candidates, Representative Jeremiah Koung is making his presence felt in most parts of the county by donating building materials such as zinc and cement, along with cash; factors that have drawn voters to candidates in many elections in Liberia of late.
Koung is followed by immediate former Superintendent Dorr Cooper, who is also gaining in popularity built during his term as Superintendent. Taa Wongbe has been building a strong base among young Nimba voters, while Edith Gongloe-Weh appears to rely on the concept of ‘Women Participation’ in politics as the main tool to draw Nimba women to her. Interestingly, both Dorr Cooper and Madam Gongloe-Weh are from the same town, Glehyee-Zorpea in Yarwin Mensonnoh County District, a situation that makes pudits see the two candidates as politically greedy for power, though they have the constitutional right to contest in the same election.
Representative Jeremiah Koung appears to be the most formidable for now. His donations coupled with the favor he gets from Senator Prince Johnson is likely to give him the edge in the race, but critics say his desire to contest for the senatorial seat has a greedy motive because he is already a lawmaker who has been elected in two elections.
Both former Senator Dolo and Representative Yealue have their strongholds in the north and northeast of Nimba County, respectively; that is around Sanniquellie and Gbehlay-Geh Districts.
Mr. Dolo has held meetings with citizens in his home town of Sanniquellie about his intention to contest, while Garrison Yealue, who is from the Gbehlay-Geh, is rallying support from his kinsmen.
Senator Thomas Grupee is observed to be strangulated as all candidates seek his removal from the post; nevertheless, his supporters remain confident that he will make it in the next term.
However, the emerging saga among the LP and the ANC is no doubt testing the strength of the CPP framework to determine whether or not the collaboration can survive the conflicting interests of its members ahead of the 2023 general election.