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Who’s Best Suited For Lofa Seat?
…Senate Sets June 28 For Re-run

By Alex Yomah
The political dust in Lofa County is about to be settled as the Liberian Senate has voted unanimously to endorse the Legislature’s leadership proposal for a new date for the conduct of its re-run election.
The Legislature’s decision followed a political rigmarole among the Unity Party and members of the Collaborating Political Party (CPP); and the matter which was before the National Elections Commission (NEC) was then transferred to the Supreme Court for interpretation thereby placing a prohibition on the process.
The NEC have had series of meetings with the Legislature’s leadership to endorse another date in line with the Constitution of Liberia but their decision was hinged on the Supreme Court’s prohibition due to key issues bordering on the election process.
Following the court’s final verdict giving the former ruling Unity Party the legal right to contest in the ensuing election, the leadership’s proposal to conduct the election on June 28, 2022 was made known in plenary and endorsed by 18 out of the 20 senators present in yesterday’s session.
It can be recalled that the re-run was expected to be held in May 2020 but the election was postponed pending the outcome of an appeal case filed at the Supreme Court.
However, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the UP/ALP on Friday, June 3, 2022, enabling the parties to field a candidate in the Lofa County election, despite the LP’s plea.
With these legal issues settled, many now believe that the entire political field in Lofa has been reset and that one can safely say that among the six declared qualified by the Elections Commission, four are possibly in the hearts of their electorates.
As the electorates and observers await the new date announcement from the elections management body which is expected to be inclusive with campaigning and other election activities, those tipped to make head waves are the ruling party’s candidate, former Liberian People’s Party Chairperson, Joseph K. Jallah; the Unity Party’s candidate, Galakpai Kortaimai, Representative Mariamu B. Fofana and independent candidate Momo Cyrus.
Those are the current four contenders who have managed their way to the table as former senator Sumo Kupee and George Samah still have a tough battle ahead of them if they are to obtain positions in the contest.
According to a political analyst, there a number of variables that have interacted against Kupee and Samah, helping Kortaimai and Cyrus, and also marginally favoring Mariamu Fofana in favor of Kortaimai, while Jallah maintains grapes of his first spot on the top four candidates table.
Journalists James Papy Kwabo writes that Jallah, whose candidacy was recently endorsed by the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC), is a serious political competitor to Lofa’s body politics, as proven by his consistent second-place finishes in two consecutive elections (2014 and 2020) and third place in 2011.
Jallah hails from a Kolahun District that has continuously voted for him, and he is the sole contender from Lower Lofa, the county’s most politically populous division, with more than half of the county’s registered voters.
When he ran in 2011, he came in third place with 12,420 votes out of 91,402 valid votes cast among ten candidates. In 2014, Jallah came in second behind Senator Stephen Zargo with 8,570 votes out of 48,812 total valid votes cast, with 9 candidates running, including Sumo Kupee and Galakpai Kortaimai, who came in fourth and sixth, respectively. Jallah placed second behind Brownie Samukai in 2020, receiving 13,968 votes out of 64,252 valid votes cast for 11 candidates.
Jallah has earned the trust of his kinsmen, notably those from the Gbandi chiefdom and, by extension, the lower Lofa area, who regard him as their legitimate representative. Clearly, Jallah has had a significant amount of support from the lower Lofa as compared to the upper Lofa in all of the elections in which he has run. In 2011, he finished second in District one, behind former Senator Tengbeh, with 1,403 votes, third in District two with 1,975 votes, and first in District three with 5,508.
Similarly, he earned 11,157 votes from lower Lofa in the 2020 Midterm Senatorial Election, accounting for 79 percent of his total votes cast. Interestingly, he finished first in Districts 2 and 3 with larger vote totals than in prior years, with the exception of District 1, where he ended fourth.
Jallah’s main opponent will be former Lofa County Superintendent Galakpai Kortaimai, who is running on the Unity Party ticket, despite the fact that there is no other candidate from the lower Lofa region.
Unity Party candidate Galakpai, who served as Superintendent of Lofa from 2006 to late July 2012, through his leadership in the Unity Party, he was key in the party’s two victories in 2005 and 2011.
He later resigned and joined the CDC in 2014 where he competed as its candidate against Senator Kupee but received 3,570 votes out of a total of 48,812 valid votes, placing him sixth during the 2014 election.
He then rejoined the Unity Party in late 2020 and was appointed interim Chairperson, a post he still occupies. He has gathered substantial administrative authority and gained the trust of his people in the inhabited towns of Fissebu and Yeala, as well as some portions of Zorzor City, as a descendant of the Gizzimai Clan in Zorzor District.
Kortaimai has developed excellent long-term working ties throughout the county, particularly in Voinjama, where it has a large network of Lorma followers.
Many of Brownie Samukai’s supporters see Galakpai as a genuine fighter who stood by them during Brownie Samukai’s court case and feel that by picking him to replace Samukai, who is legally unable; they will be able to repay him.
Although the Unity Party element would work in his favor, the inclusion of four extra candidates from Upper Lofa, where he is from, might lessen his prospects and put him in a tough position to overcome the numbers from lower Lofa, where Jallah is from.
Kortimai, like Jallah, will receive significant support from District one, which is primarily the Foyah statutory district, but regrettably, District one is Lofa County’s least populous electoral district.
Despite our initial prediction of a 25% probability of getting elected, he has vigorously campaigned around the county with Brownie Samukai, attracting a large number of supporters, putting him far ahead of Kupee, Mariamu, Cyrus, and Samah, placing him second on the top four table.
Independent candidate Mariamu entered Lofa politics as a candidate for the first time in 2011, when she stood for Representative of District 4 winning with 4,631 votes out of 20,345 valid votes cast among fourteen candidates.
With 11 candidates competing, she was re-elected in 2017 with 8,438 votes out of 28,856 casts and she then ran in the 2020 midterm elections and came third with 9,629 votes out of 64,252 valid ballots among 11 mostly male candidates.
She had no experience running for as an independent candidate, unlike in this by-election, when she is expected to campaign on her own merits rather than the agenda of a political party and Mariamu hopes of being endorsed by the ruling CDC were thwarted and she now faces an uphill battle against Cyrus and the other four candidates from Upper Lofa.
SEGAL boss, Cyrus has been very aggressive with his campaigning across Lofa County and in a relatively short period of time, he has changed the dynamics of being new to being influential, attracting the votes of the youths primarily in Zorzor and Salayea, and maintaining grapes on Voinjama District, putting him one step ahead of former Lofa County Senator Kupee. Many believe Cyrus has taken advantage of cash politics to ensure his presence is felt across the region by making large financial donations and commitments to individuals and organizations, as well as strengthening his media and propaganda teams, which are mostly made up of young people, and strengthening his logistical capacities in reaching all hard-to-reach communities. Cyrus has been able to increase his team’s performance in a surprisingly short amount of time.
Momo is seen as a light of hope by many powerful young people, notably in Upper Lofa’s Voinjama Administrative District, as a new power dynamic in Lofa’s body politics.
Cyrus is credited with guiding the County to its first two trophies (football and kickball) since the establishment of Lofa in 1964 and the start of the National County Sports Meet in Liberia and he has worked for the county, mostly in the Voinjama District, where he was born and raised.
Despite his lack of political experience in the county, he has remained active in conflict resolution, the most recent of which was a standoff between aggrieved faculty members and the administration at Lofa County Community College, during which a resolution was signed and later overturned by the Lofa County Community College Board of Trustees.

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