Liberia’s Traditional Head Says Sitting Lawmakers Shouldn’t Contest Legislative Elections

MONROVIA, Montserrado – Chief Zanzan Karwah, chair of the National Council of Chiefs and Elders, says stakeholders of Liberia’s electoral process, including the National Elections Commission, should put in place policies to prevent sitting lawmakers from contesting future elections at the legislature.

Karwah made the statement in Monrovia recently at a gathering to develop NEC’s strategic plan for the next six years. His statement comes amid the upcoming senatorial by-elections in Bong and Montserrado that sees challenges from lawmakers such as Rep. Saah Joseph of Montserrado’s 13th district, Rep. Marvin Cole of Bong’s third district, and Rep. Yekeh Kolubah of Montserrado’s 10th district.

“The idea of sitting lawmakers contesting for vacant seats in the legislature is causing serious financial burdens for the country,” Karwah said.

The traditional head of Liberia emphasized that lawmakers remaining in an elected position and vying for another vacant seat in the legislature is a waste of state resources and it “should be discouraged by stakeholders in the country’s electoral process and NEC.”

Rep. Saah Joseph of Montserrado’s 13th district is vying to be senator of his county. Photo: Zeze Ballah

Karwah is not the first to make such a call. In April of this year, Rep. Lawrence Morris of Montserrado’s first district called on his colleagues to abandon their political quests and not participate in the pending senatorial by-election.

Morris said the upcoming senatorial by-election is meant to usher in new faces at the legislature and that “the vacant seats are not meant for the government to conduct another round of elections.”

The 2017 elections saw President George Weah’s senatorial seat in Montserrado vacated, while Vice President Jewel Howard-Taylor’s Bong senatorial seat also became open.

Rep. Yekeh Kolubah of Montserrado’s 10th district also wants to be senator of Montserrado. Photo: Zeze Ballah

“Because of the overspending process associated with conducting elections, I think it would be better for our colleagues in the legislature to back out of the race,” Morris said. “By doing so, we will be promoting the government’s Pro-Poor Agenda, which is aimed at improving the living standards of the people.”

He indicated that the three representatives contesting the by-elections should make an informed decision by prioritizing the people’s conditions, but not to create another by-election.

“Money saved from the process can be used to increase the salaries of nurses, teachers and security personnel,” he emphasized.

Featured photo by Zeze Ballah

Zeze Ballah

Zeze made his journalism debut as a high school reporter at the LAMCO Area School System. In 2016 and 2017, the Press Union of Liberia awarded Zeze with the Photojournalist of the Year award. Zeze was also the union's 2017 Health Reporter of the Year. He is a Health Journalism Fellow with Internews.

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