By Peter Kieh Doe
For the first time since 1944, when incumbent President Edwin J. Barclay did not participate in the elections as a candidate, but presided over a transition and gave the presidency to William V.S. Tubman, Liberians will vote in representative and presidential elections in 2017. The incumbent president will not partake as a candidate. Why? Because the constitution limits the presidency to two terms. The second term of the incumbent president will expire in early 2018. At that time, the Country will transition from the outgoing president and representatives to newly elected president and members of the House of Representatives.
Hence, the impending 2017 elections are expected to be highly charged. Now, a political battle which seem to be a warm up to the crucial nationwide elections happened few days ago in electoral district #2 Lower Lofa county. I was there. Ten candidates (two females) and (eight males) contested in the by-election for the vacant seat in the House of Representatives. The vacancy is an aftermath of the death of electoral district #2 Lower Lofa Representative, Hon. Fofi Saah Bimba. Two independent candidates (one male and one female) the rest were on the tickets of political parties.
They are Thomas Ngombu Brima Jr. –Liberia National Union (LINU), Jasper Tamba sallah Chowoe – Liberty Party (LP), Moisema Kamara – Congress for Democratic Change (CDC), Varforay A.M Kamara – Independent (IND), Amara Kaifa Kenneh – Alliance for Peace and Democracy (APD), Fomba K. Kanneh – All Liberia Coalition Party (ALCOP), Augustine Boakai Lansana –Unity Party (UP), Julia F. Russell – All Liberian Party (ALP), Moses Armah Saah – Alternative National Congress (ANC), Julie Fartorma Wiah—Independent (IND).
After the National Elections Commission (NEC) announced the names of the candidates, people debated about which political party stand a chance to win the by-election. Based on past impressive performances in legislative and presidential elections, representative and senatorial by-elections across the country, a huge chunk of the populace predicted that one of the parties among the political parties they referred to as elite parties such as UP, CDC or LP was bound to win the Lower Lofa by- election. Many folks did not imagine or talk about any political party they categorized as minnow winning the by-election let alone a relatively unknown independent candidate. But those with such mindset were unknowingly playing with a shocker.
Indeed, a shocker!!! Independent candidate Julie Fartorma Wiah won the by- election. People in district #2 Lower Lofa said hard work, tact and maturity are the major qualities which led her to victory. The by-election has further charged the political atmosphere towards the crucial 2017 Representative and Presidential elections. Of course, nobody is a loser in the by-election because Lofa County has won. Indeed, Liberia is the winner of this peaceful and credible by-election.!