Liberia’s electoral body the National Elections Commission (NEC) on Friday released a list of Provisional candidates for the upcoming Senatorial by elections in the administrative district of Lofa County in the northwest of Liberia.
The list, posted to the NEC’s website and seen by Dakpannah 24,contains four independent candidates and one from the People’s Unification Party (PUP). The Independent candidates include Mariamu Fofana, Joseph Jallah, Momo Cyrus, and George Samah. The candidate of the PUP is Sumo Kupee.
According to the NEC, “Mr. Galakpai W. Kortimai of the Unity Party (UP) is still before the Nomination Committee’s Scrutiny Panel…”
The former ruling UP is facing an uphill battle to field candidates after it pulled out of an opposition coalition bloc along with the All Liberian Party (ALP) over internal feuding with the Alternative National Congress (ANC).
The Liberty Party (LP) and the ANC have remained as constituent members of the Collaborating Political Parties (CPP) which was established as a common front try to unseat the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) Government of President George M. Weah in Presidential elections in 2023.
The remaining ANC and LP political parties of the CPP are pressing the electoral body for enforcement of stipulations of the governing principles of the collaboration which bars the fielding of candidates by any constituent party which exits the collaboration.
The NEC is presently hearing arguments into the matter and is yet to clear the candidate from the UP to participate in the Lofa County by-elections in May.
The release of the Provisional List of Candidates by the NEC is bound to heighten the anger of the UP, its supporters and partisans who are arguing that its is unconstitutional to enforce a bar against the party over its exit from the opposition coalition.
The main contention centers around the refusal of the ANC to surrender the top opposition leadership post to Mr. Boakai without exhausting the selection process agreed to by all constituent members of the CPP. The UP had been courting the Standard Bearer of the ANC Mr. Alexander Cummings to automatically go as the number two to its Standard Bearer Mr. Boakai but the proposition has been rejected outright.
The ANC argues that the CPP was not established to automatically “crown” Mr. Boakai as the main opposition candidate to challenge President Weah and has refused to subordinate its interest and ambition to the UP. The ANC says as part of the selection process for a unified candidate, all member parties of the CPP agreed to a non-binding Voters Perception Survey (VPS) and which, if not conclusive, should then allow for a primary elimination process for all candidates desirous of contesting to lead the opposition bloc.
On Friday, the Standard Bearer of the former ruling party and former Vice President of Liberia Mr. Joseph N. Boakai issued a statement to his supporters and partisans and warned saying, “Let me again state categorically that there will be no final listing from the Elections Commission published for the Lofa County by-election senatorial race that will not have the name of the Unity Party candidate. and this I must repeat that we expect the NEC to do the right thing…”
He, however, did not provide an explanation on why his political party was unilaterally abrogating the agreed terms of the CPP by the exit if his party even though he was aware that remaining parties may seek to enforce the agreement under which they bloc was established.
The by-election for Lofa County Senatorial seat is scheduled for next month according to an earlier NEC pronouncement. The current list of candidates does not include the current ruling party -CDC candidates that suffered serious defeats in the country’s mid-term senatorial elections subsequent by-elections.