Liberian parties fail to secure seats to control Senate
None of Liberia’s more than 28 political parties won enough seats in the country’s Senate during the December 20 election to control this Senate, Liberia’s election body said Saturday. It said the ruling Unity Party won only four Senate seats, whereas the opposition Congress for Democratic Change Party won two seats. Three more seats were won by independent candidates, the election commission said during a press conference in capital Monrovia.
It noted that the remaining seven seats of the Senate (the upper house of the bicameral legislative branch) were won by seven political parties one seat each.
Liberians converged onto polling stations across their country on December 20 to cast their votes in the senatorial election. The voters had the mission of selecting 15 appropriate senators. Around 130 candidates, including one woman only, ran in the election. The vote was marred, however, by the deadly Ebola virus, which has claimed a large number of lives in this poor West African state. The election commission said out of a total of 1.2 million eligible voters, only 479,936 showed up at polling stations on election day.
This amounts to 25 percent of overall registered voters, the commission said. Nevertheless, two outgoing senators managed to re-win senate seats in the election, which means that they will be able to maintain these seats.
These two senators included Jewel Howard Taylor, the wife of ex-President Charles Taylor, who is now in the Hague, standing trial on charges of committing crimes against humanity in his country.The other returning senator is Prince Y. Johnson, a warlord from Nimba County, in the north central portion of Liberia.
Among election winners was also famous retired soccer star George Weah, a member and a founder of the Congress for Democratic Change Party. Weah won around 78 percent of total votes in his Montserrado County, northwestern Liberia, according to the election commission. The retired soccer player is elected senator for the first time after almost a decade in politics.
Weah ran for president in 2005, but he lost the top spot in the West African nation to incumbent President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. Nevertheless, Weah is reported to be dreaming of becoming his country’s president. Many of his backers hope he will spend the next three years preparing for the 2017 presidential election in Liberia. The election commission said it would certify election winners on January 3.