Thursday, September 24, 2009

Divided CDC Foams Over Flooded Bi-election

The CDC's flagbearer and first partisan George George Weah

NEC Warns Against Pre-Election Campaign

By: Bill K. Jarkloh

In the face of a flooded race to fill in the Montserrado County Senatorial vacancy left behind by the demise of Senator Hannah Brent, the main opposition party of football legend George Weah, the Congress for Democratic Change (DCD) is falling apart over who should represent the party in the race.

With the death of Senator Brent reducing the number female representation in the Senate to four, political commentators imbued with this gender advocacy think a female candidate would be ideal to occupy the slot. At present, Senior Senator Jewel Howard-Taylor of National Patriotic Party representing Bong County, Maryland County’s Gloria Musu Scott of the ruling Unity Party, Margibi County’s Senior Senator Clarice Jah of the Liberty Party and Montserrado County’s Joyce Musu Freeman-Sumo of the Congress for Democratic Change are the remaining female Senators in the Legislature.

However, names of several potential men have spouted. Some of the names that have spouted on the crowded field include Professor. Alhaji Kromah, two times presidential candidate of the All Liberian Coalition Party (ALCOP); Clemencea Urey who won Saturday’s UP’s primaries as the party’s candidate and Darius Dillion of the Liberty Party;

Others are Acarius Gray; Geraldine Doe-Sheriff and Eugene Nagbe all from the CDC , Professor and former Finance Minister Wilson Tarpeh, Daniel Johnson who heads the Monrovia City Council and Edwin Snowe, former speaker of the current House of Representatives and a Montserrado County representative whose intention remains unconfirmed and an array of female candidates.

When it was announced that vacancy occurred at the Upper Chamber of the National Legislature, moves that were made in political domains reflected what was reminiscent a split in the one time mutual cooperation that have bind the CDC’s political activism and positions amongst members.

Instead of standing together, the Chairman of the Party, Geraldine Doe-Sheriff hastily announced her interest to the opposition to the dislike of party godfather and standard-bearer Weah who did not bite4 his tongue in registering support to Lenn Eugene Nagbe, the Secretary General of the party who too was eyeing the vacancy to contest it.

Apparently, the CDC executives wanted to out-smart each other since constitutionally, the National Elections Commission is required to conduction a bi-election to fill whatever vacancy that is created in the National Legislature within 90 days, as such may be occasioned by death or resignation of a member(s).

In words of Weah who spoke in the media from the United States, Nagbe was the choice of the party and not Party Chairman Geraldine Doe-Sheriff, but Madam Sheriff, with some party stalwarts standing behind her decisively implied the fact that CDC is no personal property of Mr. Weah but a political institution that should be patterned in a democratic manner. She said Weah was not saying the truth and that a party convention would decide who should be supported by the party.

On the other hand, loquacious Acarius Gray stepped in, registering his interest to contest for the vacancy on CDC’s ticket.

In the meridiem of time, however, CDC has held party congress in New Krutown where partisans preferred Madam Geraldine Doe-Sheriff for the Seat for Montserrado in the Senate, but Acarius Gray considered the congress’ result faulty and unacceptable.

Notwithstanding the fact that Weah who supported Nagbe as the Secretary General for the Senatorial vacancy hasn’t reacted to the DCD’s congress that has elected Madam Doe-Sheriff for the position, Mr. Eugene Nagbe himself pledged support to the congress’ choice of party Chairman sheriff to contest the by-election.

Mr. Nagbe said the CDC has spoken and that he stands by the decision of the CDC, while the CDC’s Assistant Secretary Acarious Gray resented the congress and its choice of party chairman Doe-Sheriff.

Eugene Nagbe, Acarius Gray, and Geraldine Doe-Sheriff are all top executive members of George Weah’s CDC, serving currently as secretary-general, assistant secretary-general and chairman respectively.

The disagreement amongst at the party’s hierarchy potentially could squander the CDC’s chances of victory since others who may not be interest in the controversial choice of the party may commit their loyalty at the polls to some others who may in fact be outside the party as the race is indeed flooded.

Others whose names have surfaced include University of Liberia Economics and Banking Professor Wilson Tarpeh of who has entered the race for the second time after his defeat by the CDC’s iron-lady Senator Joyce Musu Freeman-Sumo during the 2005 senatorial election.

Like Tarpeh who was defeat when to Senator Freeman-Sumo, the Unity, the Unity Party’s Clemenceau Urey, also fell to the gallant CDC female in the senatorial Montserrado County race also was elected to contest the ensuing senatorial by-election

It is also speculated that dethroned Speaker Edwin Melvin Snowe, a Representative for Montserrado County may likely take advantage of the vacancy to bid for the Upper House, although this intention by Snowe has not been made official. Snowe, a one time stalwart of the former ruling National Patriotic Party (NPP) of Charles Taylor contested the Montserrado slot he occupies at the Lower House in Parliament as independent candidate after the NPP apparently denied him to use party ticket.

Similarly, women seem to be overcrowding the race for the Montserrado County seat at the Senate, according to an online report. Already, the National Elections Commission (NEC) has reported the official registration of nine independent candidates, pending the holdings of primaries of various political parties, who are expected to field their candidates before the Commission’s set deadline of September 26, 2009.

Evidently declaration of interests ahead of party primaries or the submission of self arranged or genuine petitions to personalities which has usually characterized Liberian politics has been the order of the day. So far, the females have all decided to go independent despite whatever current political affiliations they might be having at the moment.

One of such women who contemplate contesting the vacancy is Jacqueline Capehart, a long-time business executive, saying that her desire to contest the bi-election borders on the lapses that have occasioned present legislative works on Capitol Hill. “I’m really disappointed by the level of work being done by our lawmakers. Our representatives are not liaising with us, who they claim to represent. There must be palaver-hut kinds of discussion”, Jacqueline told a reporter.

Previously a member of the opposition CDC, Capehart said her ambition for the senatorial position is also based on her desire to contribute to the task of re-building the war ravaged nation, irrespective of which profession one finds him or herself into.

Says Capehart: “It has reached the point in this country now where we ought to contribute our quota to nation building, regardless of where you find yourself”. Looking from the political horizon, it is evident that she might go as an independent candidate since the Unity Party she is member of has already voted Mr. Clemenceau Urey.

It was Urey, George Kailondo and Ms. Capehart despite who desired the contest on party ticket but were defeated at party primaries; she still desires to run while Kilando, a businessman, bowed graciously to Mr. Urey and accepted his defeat. UP’s Urey got an easy ride over George Kailondo during Saturday’s primary after the latter conceded defeat, prior to the primary election.

Further, it is also speculated Mr. Darius Dillion of the Liberty Party, who now serves as senior senatorial aid in Bong County Senator Jewel Taylor’s office, has expressed interest. Dillon is noted for his critical advocacy and stance against basic decisions that he considered inappropriate

Another female candidate, Grace McGill Kpan, President of the Dock Workers Union of Liberia desire the race as well. Kpan says she believes in the quest for workers to be represented at the highest level. McGill Kpan, who is also known for her unwavering advocacy as a labor leader sounded confident in a race that promises to produce other political giants, already testing the waters for the ensuing 2011 Elections.

“I’m a servant-leader who has worked as a labor leader”, she added. McGill Kpan then added the obvious voice as would be expected from any female candidate. “It’s good for another female to take that seat, because the number of females in the House is already minute”.

Meanwhile, the National Elections Commission (NEC) which spoke of the formal registration of some nine nominees warned against pre-election campaign, saying that anyone engaging in pre-election campaign would be disqualified.

With the list of contestants expected to grow, the NEC put nomination period between September 12 - 26, to be followed by a period for objection and claim, if there will be any. The Commission further said political campaign will take place from October 14 to November 8 followed by the replacement of voters’ identification cards from October 20-31 and the arrival of paper ballots on November 1, 2009.

The official announcement of polling results is would be on November 14, four days after voting. In case of any runoff, it will be conducted on November 24 with final results announced on November 27.

Statistics at the National Election Commission have it that Montserrado has 14 electoral districts with 496,508 registered voters of the 1.3 million people in Montserrado County, while 280 voting precincts and 989 polling places used in the 2005 elections remain unchanged for the ensuing bi-election.

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