Monrovia-jan-16-TNR: Monday, January 15, 2024, will be remembered as a day when two opposition lawmakers and a lady from the incoming ruling party won their respective seats.

The seat of the first branch of the government located on Capitol Hill was a place where new leadership ‘bonza’ occurred.

Beaming with smiles, former Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Jonathan Fonati Koffa beat his rival, Richard N. Koon with five votes out of 67 lawmakers who voted. There are 73 lawmakers, but there are disputes in some places. Therefore, The National Elections Commission had instructed them to either recount or hold re-elections at specific places.

The former Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives was elected Speaker of the 55th National Legislature. Koffa, of the former ruling party-Coalition for Democratic Change-CDC of George Weah, defeated Unity

Party’s candidate, Richard Nagbe Koon with 36 votes, while Koon obtained 31 votes, a margin of five votes.

The Speakership election is in keeping with Article 49 of the 1986 Constitution of Liberia which states that, “The House of Representative shall elect once every six years a Speaker who shall be the presiding officer of that body, a Deputy Speaker, and such other officers as shall ensure the proper functioning of the House. The speaker, the deputy speaker, and other officers so elected may be removed from office for cause by resolution of a two-thirds majority of the members of the House.”

The election of that body was earlier awaited by anxious party Stewarts from both the CDC and UP who were seen dancing and singing in hard spirit. After Koffa was announced winner, he informed his colleagues that the process was over and it was time to work in the interest of the people of Liberia.

One of the first things he promised was to work along with his colleagues to conduct consultations with the people of Liberia to see the possibility of raising a resolution for the establishment of the much-talked-about War and Economic Crimes Court in Liberia.

During the nearly 14 years of civil conflict, many Liberians were alleged to have committed serious atrocities for which some citizens of the country have repeatedly called for the establishment of a court for those who committed crimes against humanity to account for their wrongdoings.

Cllr. Fonati Koffa won as Deputy Speaker in 2019 taking over from former Deputy Speaker, Prince Moye who won as Senator of Bong County following the 2017 elections. He served his colleagues as Deputy for the past years and has now won as Speaker of the House of Representatives.

Deputy Speaker:

The Deputy Speaker was won by Lofa County District One Representative, Thomas Fallah of the CDC, who won with 42 votes over Nimba County District Seven Representative, Musa Haasan Bility with a total of 22 votes.

With the elections of both Cllr. Koffa and Fallah, it means that the outgoing government has taken over the leadership of the lower House. The elections for the positions of Clerk, Deputy Chief Clark, and Sargent-at-Arms were postponed to Tuesday, January 16, 2024.

SENATE-President Pro-Tempore

Nyonblee Wins Pro-tempore position:

At the Liberian Senate, the upper house, Grand Bassa County Senator Nyonblee Karnga-Lawrence was elected President Pro-tempore of the Liberian Senate of the 55th National Legislature.

Senator Karnga-Lawrence was nominated for the post of President Pro-Tempore by Senator Prince Moye of Bong County while the voting was about to start.

For Senator Gbenzongar Findley of Grand Bassa who had earlier vowed to contest for the post, withdrew last minute to time after he was nominated by Senator Nathaniel McGill of Margibi County.  According to him, his decision to quit was based on the county’s traditional and cultural practices.

The victory of Senator NyonbleeKarnga-Lawrence is historic as she is the first female of Grand Bassa County to become head of the Senate, the first female Chairperson of the Bassa Legislative Caucus, the first female Political Leader of Liberty Party and the second female Pro-temp of the Liberian Senate.

Since there was no contender, Grand Kru County Senator and former Pro-Tempore, Albert Chie who was recently sanctioned by the United States Government for alleged acts of corruption cast the white ballot for the election of Senator NyonbleeKarnga-Lawrence.

Following the election, Pro Tempore Lawrence hugged and thanked her colleague, Senator Findley for his decision to quit the race.

Senator Lawrence is no stranger to the Senate. The Political Leader of the Liberty Party was elected at the National legislature in 2013 following the sudden death of former Senator John Whitfield. In December 2020, she was elected to serve her full term.

Senator NyonbleeKarnga-Lawrence is seen as the second female to head such after former Montserrado County Senator Grace Minor served in the same position becoming the first female to be elected President Pro-tempore of the Senate during the reign of imprisoned Liberian President Charles Taylor.

Fallah Wins Deputy Speaker Post:

For the post of Deputy Speaker in the House of Representatives, former Montserrado County Representative now Lofa County District #1 Representative, Thomas Fallah was declared winner with a 20 vote margin.

The Deputy Speaker post was contested by Lofa County District One Representative, Thomas Fallah who won with 42 votes over Nimba County District Seven Representative, Musa HaasanBility with a total of 22 votes.

The House of Representatives of the 55th Legislature will be headed by the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) which is now returning to opposition in just a week, while the Liberian Senate is headed by the incoming Unity Party/Liberty Party Alliances.

Political pundits have described the composition of the 55th Legislature as a balance of power.

 

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