By Garmonyou Wilson
At last, the 2014 Special Senatorial Elections has ended in Liberia, and Liberians indeed exhibited superb behavior in their various polling centers across the country, though many of the citizens opted to stay home due to fears of the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD).
Bravo! Liberians for demonstrating that democracy can and will prevail in our beloved country. This is a great sign of relief for all of us especially some who are carrying negative analysis of the election and what it would mean if held while some were of the conviction that it would cause more harm than good. Together we can say that it was indeed a success!
To borrow the words of my boss, “Now to the issue ‘at bar, “What has the just ended election taught us from the individuals that have been elected, the changes that were made, the incumbent senators who were re-elected and the new ones that would be inducted in January, 2015 and those that were not re-elected?
Everybody has an opinion about the just ended election; that is some alleged of irregularities which in my mind would have been obvious, among other things and so as a developing Liberian journalist, I, too have an opinion; presumably an outlook of how Liberians are thinking, their beliefs and what they are likely to do following the successful special senatorial election.
Six issues I observed during and following the just ended election
Firstly, Liberians still have a level of trust for the ruling Unity Party (UP). Out of the 15 seats that were up for grasp, the ruling party had four seats; that is, in Bomi, Grand Cape Mount, River Gee and Sinoe Counties. Many would say that the Liberian President, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf has lost many strong confidants, but with the likes of Varney Sherman, CommanyWesseh and Morris Saytumah joining the government through the Liberian Senate, the events are sure to be interesting.
The second issue
Liberians should take heed that the just ended elections showed that Liberians are deviating from the ‘party’ politics as was demonstrated in the 2005 and 2011 elections with many of the registered voters voting for a party because of its standard bearer or political leader. For example the then political party of Senator Prince Johnson of the National Union for Democratic Progress (NUDP) in Nimba County brought on board majority of the representatives from Nimba County with his influence and the Congress for Democratic Change which pulled in many representatives for Montserrado County because of its political leader, George Weah.
Another issue to look at is that Liberians seem not to have forgotten about the years of civil conflict in the country and believe to still owe it unto themselves to repay some actors of the crisis. What I am saying; take for example, out of the 12 Senators who tried to get re-elected for the Senate, only two were considered. Now, take into consideration the background of Jewel Howard-Taylor of the National Patriotic Party (NPP) and Independent candidate Prince Johnson; these two last names might not be forgotten due to the roles played in the country. It is apparent that Madam Taylor being the former wife of former President Charles Taylor and Senator Johnson who headed the defunct Independent National Patriotic Front of Liberia (INPFL) during our country’s turbulent times are names embedded in the hearts and minds of the Liberian people.
What the recent elections and past elections have demonstrated is that Montserrado County, especially Monrovia is a strong hold for the Congress for Democratic Change (CDC) and anyone who wants to be Senator or Representative in the county should know that the CDC is a “BONE TO PICK” judging from the number of votes always netted by the CDC during any national election. Imagine one person being lavished by 99,226 votes among ten contenders!
On the list of issues noted during my observation is that Liberians should also be aware that as the General and Presidential Elections creep up in just about two years from now, it is very possible that the next president of Liberia could come from among the 13 newly elected Senators and the incumbents. Senator-elects Weah, CDC’s political leader and the UP’s Chairperson, Sherman have tested their political strength in the presidential race before and therefore could be a force for the 2017 Presidential Election.
And the sixth
The last issue that was noticed from the just ended 2014 Special Senatorial Election was that while Liberia has spent millions of dollars to make sure that the country is gender sensitive, the citizenry seems far from grasping the efforts and may dash the hopes of the international partners looking at the trend the political landscape is driving towards. With the 15 seats to be occupied by the Senators upon being declared vacant by the sitting senators soon, only one female was given the opportunity to join her other two colleagues already in the Liberian Senate thereby making it a total of three Senators, that is a four percent of female representation which is a huge decrease in the representation opted for by the female advocates in the country.
With this, what did you also observe? I Leave It to You.