Opinion: The Senatorial By-Election; A popularity test for President Weah and the CDC

By Varney Anasters Teah

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Monrovia- As Liberians go to the poll tomorrow to vote for new Senators in Montserrado and Bong Counties, there is one thing at stake: whether President George Weah and the CDC-led government is still popular among Liberians or not.

By early morning tomorrow, Liberians will converge at various polling places across Montserrado and Bong Counties to elect new Senators for the seats vacated by President George Weah and Vice President Jewel Howard-Taylor, former Senators of both counties respectively. The election on Tuesday is not just a choice of new Senators by Liberians in these counties, rather, it will also make an important political statement.

With the country looming in an economic crisis, these elections will determine whether President George Weah and the CDC-led government who won more than 60% of the votes in the 2017 elections during the second round are popular with the Liberian people or whether the economic hullabaloo had some taints on his and the CDC’s popularity. Statistically, Montserrado has the highest number of registered voters, followed by Nimba, with Bong County in third place. Montserrado and Bong combined, makes up 45% of registered voters, which in essence is a very significant number to make that political statement.

Despite elections going on simultaneously in the two counties, the main focus of Liberians is on the Montserrado County election; firstly, because it is the seat that was vacated by President George Weah, and secondly, because Montserrado is a CDC stronghold. Survey puts CDC’s candidate, a sitting representative, Hon. Saah Joseph Joseph in the lead, followed by Liberian Disco Jockey and Entertainment Mogul Bernard “DJ Blue” Benson. A Saah Joseph win will not only be a CDC win; it will be a major blow to the oppositions who have been criticizing the government at every angle. With a Saah Joseph win, President Weah and the CDC can respond to critics with just one sentence: “Check the Montserrado County election result”. In addition, if they also win the Bong County seat being contested by Hon. Marvin Cole also a sitting representative, it will not just be a slap in the face but a major blow to the opposition. With two wins from both counties, it will be a clear indication that Liberians still prefer the CDC and President Weah despite the economic instability. This would cement CDC’s leadership to a great extent  and give them major boost in the intellectual debate.

On the flip side, a lost for either candidate, especially Saah Joseph will be a warning sign to President Weah and CDC to step up their games. It will tell a story of disappointment, frustration and an unchanged story. The message of “Hope for Change” will have to be scrutinized and reexamined.

In the meantime, and from survey conducted, intertwined with realities in play, The Liberian Billboard is predicting a Saah Joseph win in Montserrado County. With a heavy and loyal CDC base, mostly among the young population, and a cemented Ebola fight record, Hon. Saah Joseph might just be on his way of becoming the next Senator of Montserrado County. A huge voter turnout in Montserrado might even bring a repeat of the 2014 Senatorial election results, when then candidate George Weah won Robert Sirleaf with a very large margin. In less than 48hrs, the next Senators of Montserrado and Bong Counties will be announced, and it might just not be a victory for Saah Joseph and Marvin Cole, but for President George Weah and the CDC-led government.