There are 15 seats out for grabs come December 8, senatorial elections but 11 members from the House of Representatives are among 118 candidates contesting.
As December 8, 2020, draws closer, 17 sitting lawmakers from 13 counties are contesting the senatorial mid-term elections.
Margibi and Grand Cape Mount Counties have two representatives each for a total of four sitting lawmakers among the 17 contested seats.
The legislature is made up of 73 seats for the representatives, who serve six-year terms. Thirty seats are for senators who serve for nine years.
In 2011, 15 senators were elected. All but one is not running for re-election. The sole senator who is not seeking another is Alphonso Gaye of Grand Gedeh County, who bid farewell at the closure of the senate’s session.
This year also sees an increase in sitting lawmakers vying for the senatorial seats. In 2014, five sitting representatives competed in the senatorial elections that had 139 candidates.
Senators, Francis Paye of Rivercess and Saah Joseph of Montserrado are recorded as former representatives who are now serving in the senate.
The table of sitting representatives in 2011 WHO contested 2014 senatorial elections. None of these candidates were successful in their bids.
|Getrude Lamin||Gbarpolu||3||Unity Party||1,906||16.5||12,465|
|Gabriel Smith||Grand Bassa||3||Independent||1353||4.8||30,153|
|Zoe Pennue||Grand Gedeh||1||Independent||3273||19.1||18,168|
|Isaac Roland||Maryland||3||Liberty Party||2,122||13.4||16,824|
|Charles Bardyl||RiverGee||3||Unity Party||1303||12.8||10,726|
Representative Bardyl ran for a representative on the Unity Party ticket, but in 2014 he and Representative Roland sought senate positions on the People Unification party ticket.
MATERSEL: SWITCHING PARTIES DEGRADES DEMOCRACY, COSTS TAXPAYER
A group named Movement Against the Election of Representatives to the Senate of Liberia (MATERSEL); a movement established to instill political integrity in Liberia, says the action of switching parties by the representatives has the tendency of giving rise to inferior judgment:
“Those lawmakers who have not yet ended their tenures, are engaging in a desperate political move that does not contribute towards the growth and development of the country, but will instead plunge the country into deficit through the usage of taxpayer’s money for the unnecessary purpose of conducting by-elections,” MATERSEL said in a statement.
The statement continues, “Being a sitting representative and contesting for another position is a clear attempt to portray how greedy, over-ambitious, selfish and psychopathic those individuals are. They mean no good for Liberia and the people who voted for them and as such, we must resist them.”
MATERSEL said those contesting posed a threat to the national coffers of the state. “They should be resisted in every corner because their intention is to put another financial burden on the country by causing us to spend the people’s money on by-elections if any of them should win on December 8, 2020.”
Four of the seventeen representatives were contacted via phone and namely Mariamu Fofana, Edwin Snowe, Thomas Fallah and Prince Moye.
Only Representative Snowe answered and said he couldn’t release any information because he does not trust and know our reporter.
However, he promised to give his campaign manager’s number but later declined to send it.
See table of those contesting
|Thomas P. Fallah||5||Montserrado|
|Ivar K. Jones||2||Margibi|
|Ben A. Fofanna||4||Margibi|
|Jeremiah K. Koung||1||Nimba|
|Vincent Willie||4||Grand Bassa|
|Zoe Pennue||1||Grand Gedeh|
|Edwin M. Snowe||1||Bomi|
|Nathaniel N. Bahway||1||Grand Kru|
|Mambu Sonnie||2||Grand Cape Mount|
|Emmerson V. Kamara||3||Grand Cape Mount|
|Mariamu B. Fofana||4||Lofa|
|George S. Boley||2||Grand Gedeh|
|Alfred G. Koiwood||1||Gbarpolu|
|Francis S. Young||2||River Gee|
CODE OF CONDUCT SEEKS TO ADDRESS PROBLEM
The code of conduct requires members of the Executive branch of government to resign their appointed positions before contesting elections or actively participating in an election. But there is no such law requiring representatives to resign before contesting in other elections.
In March 2014, the 53rd Legislature of Liberia passed a National Code of Conduct for all public officials and employees of the Government of Liberia.
The Legislature’s decision was in line with the Constitution of Liberia which calls for the enactment of basic law to protect the integrity of public service and guard against conflicts of interest among officials holding public office.
The law, among other things, seeks to cut bribery, nepotism, lobbying and unethical behavior that could give rise to a conflict of interest or undermine the credibility of public policy. However, some of its provisions, particularly ‘Part V’ which focuses on political participation have caused controversies in recent times.
‘Part V’ of the law states that all officials appointed by the president are not allowed “to engage in political activities including the contesting for elective office, campaigning for a political party or candidate, and using resources and facilities of government to back partisan politics.
It further provides that appointed officials who want to canvass or participate in an election must resign at least two years before elections, and three years in the case of tenured officials.
CDC CAMPAIGN TEAM NAMED
On October 29, the ruling party recalled public officials who were named to participate on the campaign team of the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) due to the Code of Conduct (COC).
Some public officials appointed by the CDC Chairman Morlu to serve on the campaign team includes, Environmental Protection Agency Executive Director Professor Wilson K. Tarpeh as National Chairman, Gender Minister Piso Saydee-Tarr as Media and Communication chair, Monrovia City Mayor Jefferson T. Koijee as Head of Operations, Deputy Finance Minister for Fiscal Affairs and Samora P. Z. Wolokolie on Policy and Strategy.
Other officials include the Comptroller General of Liberia, Janga A. Kowo, Head of Campaign Secretariat, Assistant Minister of Mines Emmanuel T. Swen and Liberia Refugee Repatriation and Resettlement Commission Head Rev. Festus Logan, among several others.
The CDC party chairman Mulbah Morlu said the decision is intended to sustain the rule-of-law culture in the country as Liberia moves closer to another watershed electoral period.
Morlu said there must be strict adherence to Liberia’s body of laws in order to consolidate the democratic gains the country has made over the years. He admonished other parties too, including those in the opposition, to continue to abide by the election’s guidelines.
Despite the withdrawal of the names, officials of government are visibly seen with Paraphernalia from one political event to another.
Meanwhile, it is unknown how many of the listed sitting lawmakers will win the pending elections.
But whatever the results, if any of them win, there will be a by-election which may cost tax-payers money.
An election expert who asked for anonymity said the amount of elections varies on the location of the elections and the number of statistics and the polling places.
The expert said the majority of the fund is focused on operation and logistics, “There is no fixed budget for any election because what you proposed is not what you are given,” the expert said.
December 8, 2020, Special senatorial elections had a budget of USD$17 Million but it was reduced to USD$ 13.5 million.
However, the US$ 13.5 million has increased as the legislature decided to allow the NEC to conduct the two by-elections in Montserrado and Sinoe counties for a vacancy created in the House of Representatives as a result of the deaths of Representatives Munah Pelham-Youngblood and J. Nagbe Sloh.