No return, slim chances as Legislators’ fate in limbo
The clock is ticking, time is running-out, and the fate of the sixty-four member House of Representatives and half of the thirty-member Senate is now hanging in the balance as Liberia heads into the crucial October/November 2011General and Presidential elections.
The elections expected to be tensed and heated will produce Liberia’s next President and present the new and entire membership of the House of Representatives and a batch of fifteen new (15) Senators- who will join their colleagues currently enjoying their term as Senior Senators.
As elections countdown runs, the fight for political survival is becoming clear as each and every member of the House of Representatives excluding the ‘failed’ Representative Dusty Wolokollie of Montserrado County District # 7and half of the Senate is now intensifying campaign for re-election.
This has been manifested over the past Months since the National Elections Commission got the Voters’ Registration process underway in late February and early March. At then, sitting Legislators thirsty for re-election trucked borrowed and cash-driven potential voters in multitude into their constituencies to increase their chances in the Legislative elections.
Also, members of the Legislature particularly the House of Representatives have in the past weeks been failing to attend normal chamber session to debate crucial national issues because of their last minute to time impression of visiting their Electoral Districts to hold meetings with the inhabitants they have in most instances shunned in the past and failed to ably represent at the first branch of government, The National Legislature.
The situation of abandoning session for re-election quest has become embarrassing, shameful and appalling as the House chamber has been mostly emptied with few lawmakers in session while their ghost colleagues ramble about in their Electoral Districts strategizing with the constituents to gain sympathy.
The strategy of the re-election threatened Legislators is clear; they want to show love for their people as their potential and known contenders are already on the grounds showcasing the failures and weaknesses of the incumbent lawmakers who they argued must not be given another chance to represent various districts because of failure.
What is even more interesting though detrimental and with consequences, is the political cross-carpeting of most sitting Legislators elected on the tickets of opposition parties or as independent candidates in the 2005 elections. The gravy seeking deflecting lawmakers have found new homes in the ruling Unity Party of President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf. Notably, the opposition Congress for Democratic formerly headed by soccer legend George Weah lost a significant of its membership to the Unity Party as ‘unfaithful’ CDC Legislators switched loyalty to the incumbent, leaving the CDC and its grass-root partisans to weep the confidence they once reposed in these lawmakers.
Moreover, the switched of loyalty coupled with the building of merger by some political parties, disenchantment in political parties, and the failure of some lawmakers to ably perform has created a coup d'état situation in most parties. This has forced threatened lawmakers with political parties’ connections to throw aside their parties’ pending primaries as they have got registered as independent candidates at the National Elections Commission to canvass for votes in the elections.
As the stakes are getting high for re-election at the Legislature with even the Speaker of the House of Representatives Alex Tyler fighting for political survival, Frontpageafrica’s Legislative Bureau now decodes the chances and fate of the 64-member House and half of the 30-member Senate in this first analysis as the 2011 Legislative elections draws closer.
SPEAKER ALEX TYLER
Klay District #1 Bomi County
STRENGTHS: Tyler’s successful handling of the gavel of the House of Representatives since the ousting of Speaker Edwin Snowe has won him praises as a stabilizer. He has developed a less combative relationship with the Executive and Judiciary branches of government compared to his predecessor as several multi-million investment agreements has sailed under his watch. As Speaker, there has been no bill from him yet.
WEAKNESSESS: Tyler is regarded as being selfish, paying lip-service to his District, quiet and clandestine operator, money driven, media unfriendly, running the Lower House on friendship basis, and at times getting involved in controversial criminal syndicate like the bribery scandal that hit the House and the removal of Bomi former Superintendent Mohammed Massaley. Appointing former speaker Edwin Melvin Snowe as concessions czar further raised questions about Tyler’s judgment and leadership ability.
CHANCES: Though a high ranking official in government, Tyler’s chances of re-election looks dreary as his rating has dropped completely something that has been manifested with his last minute efforts to carry development to his people.
DEPUTY SPEAKER TOKPAH MULBAH
District # 5, Bong County
STRENGHTS: As Deputy Speaker, Mulbah has the CDC as his strength. He has a personal rubber farm in his District and has worked to ensure the development funds are used to renovate some schools. However, his performance in the House has been unenthusiastic with no bill to boost of.
WEAKNESSES: Mulbah has been a controversial figure especially with the issue of rule of law. He has continuously been involved in violent act with security forces due to perceived irresponsible behavior though he recently got clear in a landmark police brutality case filed by the State. He is at the center of being inaccessible in some part of his District with some clan chiefs claiming they are yet to lay eyes on him.
CHANCES: Mulbah stands a very slim chance of re-election unless he works on his violent behavior and re-unites with some of his Clan Chiefs.
District #3, Montserrado County
STRENGTHS: Murray has as his strength his ability to maneuver in crucial political issue. He is also outspoken. On a performance level, he has been a nonessential legislator as his district has lost fate in him.
WEAKNESSES: Legislative observers say Murray is inconsistent. His critics say he has a rhetorical personality. He’s tongue-twisting. This has been manifested over his sudden departure from the CDC to the UP- where he is now an ally of President Sirleaf who he damned during the 2005 elections. Apart from that, he has not been forth coming in his District thus making him very unpopular. Except for lately helping victims of a fire disaster, Murray has no traceable development ventures in the District and is inaccessible in his District.
CHANCES: His departure from the CDC to the UP has created an absolutely mountainous battle for Murray. Already he was unpopular as a CDC lawmaker and now his chances of re-election have now vanished.
District #5, Montserrado
STRENGTH: Bruised by the loss of the House Speakership, Snowe remains even strong politically and financially. He is generous because of his perceived wealth and he has good relations with his District and people. He has used his skills in the Legislature to ensure the re-pavement of few in his District. He has been far from the use of the County Development Funds which was misused by former Superintendent Beauty Bacon. Snowe has a big scholarship for his District and has been helping with the health of his people with his advocacy for subsidy to the ELWA hospital. He is behind the contentious bill to increase the registration fees of electoral candidates.
WEAKNESSES: Snowe is inconsistent, cunning and at times personal in discussing issues. His inconsistency has witnessed him declaring support for Madam Sirleaf’s 2nd term bid which he initially opposed. He now regrets his past opposition to Ellen who is now his bellow. He left the NPP and ran as an independent candidate in 2005. He was with the Democratic Alliance off-late before switching to Ellen as the DA turned into the National Democratic Coalition. Snowe had in fact declared he would not re-contest the District #5 Representative seat but now he has changed with his eyes on re-election.
CHANCES: With definitive, Snowe’s re-election is already destined as he succeeded in convincing his people that his decision not to run for a second term was inappropriate because of the corruption trial he was involved with. He has also killed the Representative bid of some of his potential contenders as some immediately dropped from the race soon Snowe re-emerged.
District #2, Montserrado
STRENGTHS: Seen as a youthful activist, Neufville has worked as a CDC lawmaker over the years to maintain his critical and radical stance on issues that affect the masses. He is loquacious and knows political maneuvering. He can only boast of completing at least few palaver hunts in District #2 as a lawmaker with fewer cash donations. He is noted for preaching a ‘failed’ economic stimulus package for poor civil servants by cutting the salary, allowances, travels and other benefits of ranking officials.
WEAKNESSES: Neufville is viewed as politically crafty, cunning and even more inaccessible to his people. He is noted for not convening meetings with his people. His decision to go on a western safari with the now-deposed NIC Chairman Richard Tolbert after succeeding in overturning a motion for reconsideration in the vote of no confidence declared in Tolbert by the House, landed Neufville in trouble. He was degraded and removed from the lucrative House Committee on Investment and Concessions by Speaker Tyler. Neufville is a rival to Tyler who he has consistently criticized for lack of leadership and poor governance. His critics have also taken him to task for failing to lead the CDC Montserrado Legislative Caucus ably as he was booted out recently.
CHANCES: Neufville, now a rebel CDC executive appears to be headed for the exit from the Legislature as he has fallen out of favor in the CDC which he has abandoned to run as an Independent. His problem was compounded when another CDC Executive Acarous Gray with support from other party officials announced that he would be contesting against Neufville.
District #1, Montserrado
PERFORMANCES: Ennos carries a gender demeanor and that has been her power. She is said to be strong in the poverty-consumed slum community of West Point- where she has financially supported the education of some youths. She’s however an occasional participant in the House debate. She’s one of the female lawmakers pushing for the 30% gender equity bill for females.
WEAKNESSES: She remains another invisible CDC lawmaker who has not much traceable development initiative. She is unpopular in most parts of District #1 as she has failed to meet the many promises she made to the people in 2005.
CHANCES: Unless she works the hardest, Ennos may face a setback of re-election or even at the primary of the CDC.
Elmond T. BARCLAY:
District # 11, Montserrado
PERFORMANCES: Barclay only strength lies in his ability as an educator because he has a small amount of students from his teaching years. He has been quiet in the House and an insignificant participant.
WEAKNESSES: Barclay is another runaway CDC lawmaker who is now with the Unity Party. He even compounded his problem by leaving and abandoning his District to venture into running in another District, leaving many to label him a failure! Barclay’s critics say he lacks consultation with his people and the people themselves have declared a vote of no confidence in his ability. He has only been an occasional contributor in the House with respect to debate.
CHANCES: Unless supernatural intervention, Barclay is completely out! No chance and seat for him in the Legislature as he shot himself in the head. It seems he could return to the classroom to nurture students about his experiences as a failed Legislator.
District #13, Montserrado
PERFORMANCES: Lynch is another failed lawmaker. She has been mere observer in the House session with no perceptible submission of Legislations. Socially, Lynch is good at making new friends for entertainment purposes only because of her gender.
WEAKNESSES: She is unpopular in her territory as all of her campaign promises remain unfulfilled. Her District residents have begrudged her for not having meetings with them. She has a poor record of contributing to discussion in the House.
CHANCES: Though from the masses driven CDC, Lynch chances of retaining her seat look faraway.
District # 9, Montserrado County
PERFORMANCES: Dubbed as the wisdom-man of the House, Tandapolie is regarded as a serious working lawmaker. He has been helping with development projects in his District like the erection of toilets and a school. He has also submitted several legislations that have been approved including the ambitious one to re-locate the Capital of Liberia to Central Liberia. Tandapolie has a good rapport to large extent with his people.
WEAKNESSES: Given his background as a Justice of the Peace or Court Magistrate, Tandapolie has a speech barrier as he does not communicate to full understanding. He speaks colloquial and broken English with subject verb clashing and run on sentences emerging every time. He has not been able to properly explain his development and lawmaking initiatives to his people because of the speech impediment. At times, his views on issues are out of order.
CHANCES: If work and wisdom count more than rhetorical public speaking, Tandapolie is headed for re-election as he has a better chance.
District #7, Montserrado County
STRENGTHS: Fallah has managed to exert himself as a loyal CDC partisan. He has established a free computer training school and a scholarship program to educate the poor masses that the CDC claim to represent from his own pockets. Fallah is also involved with helping market women and youths involved in the sale of planks- which is his former trade. He has been a vocal member of the House who is highly known for overly using the word flabbergasted as a way of demonstration his oversight on the Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Committee. He succeeded in joining his fellow CDC Caucus members to oust the rebel Rufus Neufville where he seized power in a bloodless coup as Chair.
WEAKNESSES: Though with considerable support, Fallah remains unpopular in parts of his District particularly areas being largely occupied by the ever growing members of the Mandingo tribal group. He has failed to hold unity meeting with the Mandingoes who feel abandoned and marginalized by his rule.
CHANCES: With the CDC factor, Fallah’s re-election looks promising as he stands a chance once he hammers perceived differences with Mandingoes who have a large following and planning to put a candidate against him.
District # 12, Montserrado County
STRENGTHS: Known for his teaching at the AME University, Forh has as his strength his ability to convince his Kru-kinsmen positioned at the vote-rich New Kru town. He has been closer to his people with the hope of retaining their confidence in 2011. He has also refused to leave the CDC because doing so might jeopardize his political survival in the legislative election. Forh is a known talkative is credited for leading a group of lawmakers to amend the criminal procedural law to make armed robbery, terrorism, hijacking a non-bailable offense.
WEAKNESSES: Forh is considered as another crafty and cunning lawmaker who formed part of the reported five thousand US dollars distribution (US$5, 000) scandal to oust former Speaker Snowe. He was also exposed by the General Auditing Commission of signing for several thousands US$ from a state enterprise for lobby purposes at the Legislature. Forh is self-centered and ungenerous. He lacks human relations with his most of his colleagues as he has twice suffered defeat for the positions of House Speaker and Deputy Speaker. Forh is further criticized of not been too loyal to the CDC but only using it as a means to retain his seat because too often he leans with the ruling party. His re-election dilemma lies in his sour relationship with the Governor of New Kru Town who he has repeatedly accused of massive corruption though the Governor has rejected the claim.
CHANCES: Forh’s inability to settle scores with the Governor could cost him re-election as the Governor is said to have a strong constituency of his own. Forh is also caught between the scissors as his constituents want to know his position on the emergence of Winston Tubman as head of the CDC compared with their son George Weah- who they remain loyal to and disappointed in his latest decision to drop as second choice to Tubman. He has a slim chance.
District # 6, Montserrado
STRENGHTS: Dorbor has been an active female member of the House who contributes to discussion to erase the notion that females are speech shy. She has done minimal development in her District as much is not heard about her. She can boast of being one of the most trusted allies of some male lawmakers. Usually, she is found requesting performance reports from government agencies to dig deep into how they use State resources on a budgetary basis.
WEAKNESSES: Usually off-tracked in plenary discussions, Dorbor has not fully established herself as a strong female lawmaker. She looks invisible in her District and faces a challenge of not reaching out to the Mandingo ethnic group. She has poor showing in her District as the former Liberty Party Senatorial candidate Darius Dillon got fewer votes in her District due to the unpopularity of Dorbor. Dorbor was also caught by journalists distributing an unspecified bundle of US$ to her colleagues behind closed-doors in the House chamber shortly after the passage of the mining agreement between Liberia and the American Mining Liberia Limited (AMLIB) though the House spokesman unconvincingly said it was her personally money she was displaying and loaning it to her ‘broke’ colleagues.
CHANCES: The re-election chances of Dorbor look inadequate and unless she re-connects with her people, she may be heading out.
District # 10, Montserrado
STRENGTHS: Teah can boast of being in somewhat halfhearted rapport with most of her constituents. She has helped minimally development wise. Teah is a vocal female lawmaker though her English grammar cannot be tailored properly in terms of context and subject verb agreement.
WEAKNESSES: Teah stands accused of not been fully development oriented but rather jealous of development projects undertake by her contenders. She also looks invisible in some areas of her District with low popularity rating. She’s noted for been in a bitter verbal exchange with the son of the President Robert Sirleaf who was involved in the construction of a bridge in the District to the disenchantment of Teah who was appalled that she had no knowledge of the project and that behind the scene reportedly suggested that it must demolished.
CHANCES: Teah’s downfall maybe her own creation and her reelection chances appears to be gloomy.
District 8, Montserrado
STRENGTHS: Kommeh has been a side-line lawmaker in the House. Except for contributing at time contributing to debate in the House, he looks a shy figure. He’s noted for defending residents of the controversial Rocky Hill Community who were facing eviction at then.
WEAKNESSES: Koomeh is not credited for meaningful development in his District. He’s not noted for submitting bills in the House for legislation.
CHANCES: As a CDC lawmaker, Koomeh stands a wiry chance of re-election as some of his constituents see him as a disappointment.
District 14, Montserrado
STRENGTHS: Not much has been heard of Holder in the House. He is now said to be under increasing pressure to deliver as his constituents are running out of patience with his failed promises. He has not been an active participant in the House.
WEAKNESSES: Holder has been a rather non-essential figure in the House. He is not noted for contributing to debate in the House or providing bills and exercising oversight.
CHANCES: The return of Holder to the Legislature looks thin as his constituents are on his back to impress on Buchanan Renewables to bring light to the area.
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