Liberia: Rep. Koffa in Consultations to Join Deputy Speaker Race

Rep. J. Fonati Koffa (right), who supported the Speakership bid for Rep. Bhofal Chambers (left) in 2018 says he has not yet made up his mind as to whether he will contend for the Deputy Speaker post.

The chairman of the Judiciary Committee of the House of Representatives, Rep. Cllr. J. Fonati Koffa is said to be holding consultations as to whether or not to join the race for the Deputy Speaker position that is to be vacated by Bong County Representative Prince Moye who has won a nine-year senatorial seat.

The Grand Kru County District #2 Representative has accordingly been petitioned by some of his colleagues to join six other Representatives eyeing the Deputy Speaker position, and has since launched "consultations" on the prudence of his participation in the battle.

Even though there is no law that bars him from contesting the postion on the basis of regional and county origin with the President and the Speaker as it is with the President and the Vice President who are not to come from the same county, the George Weah Administration has concentration of top political leaders from the South-east; the President from Grand Kru where Representative Koffa hails, the Speaker from Maryland right by Grand Kru, and the President Pro-Tempore from Grand Kru also.

On Saturday, Rep. Koffa replied to scores of journalists: "Well, anything is possible... I am holding consultation."

Those tipped to express interest in the position include House's ECOWAS Parliament member, Lofa county District #3 Representative Clarence Massaquoi; Education Committee Chairman, Rep. Johnson Gwaikolo of Nimba County District #9; Commerce Committee chairman Rep. Samuel Kogar (Nimba County District #5); Rep. Moima Briggs-Mensah of Bong County District #6, and Rep. Richard Koon of Montserrado County District #12.

Sources say if Rep. Koffa joins the race, he and Rep. Gwaikolo with Rep. Clarence Massaquoi would be the three formidable candidates for the possible replacement of outgoing Deputy Speaker Prince K. Moye.

Impeccable sources said the House's Judiciary Committee chairman had been pushed to join following a meeting of about 25 Representatives on Friday night in a local hotel.

One of those at the meeting said the "like-minded" Representatives present agreed to front Cllr. Koffa despite associated factors such as geographical region and political party;, arguing that Koffa has "Big heart, is open-handed and educated' to ably assist in steering the affairs of the Honorable House of Representatives and outside."

Rep. Koffa's Bloc?

Rep. Koffa has appeared to be a strong candidate among other Representatives, according to a lawmaker from Montserrado, pointing out that since 2018, the "Koffa Bloc" comprising about 24 lawmakers has been together and determined.

In 2018, Rep. Koffa was poised to contest the Speaker election against Rep. Bhofal Chambers and Rep. Hans Barchue, but was compelled to "throw in the towel" and he pledged support to Rep. Bhofal Chambers. Because of Rep. Koffa's 11th hour support to Rep. Chambers, Rep. Barchue withdrew from the Speaker race allowing Rep. Chambers to win on white ballot.

Rep. Koffa also supported Rep. Moye, who emerged victorious over Rep . Barchue in the tight Deputy Speaker's race.

Confirmed

"It is true that l have been asked to join the race for the Deputy Speaker position because I am qualified for it, but I haven't made up my mind -- I am consulting," Cllr. Koffa said.

He indicated: "I am not aware of the meeting you are talking about and even if I were aware, I would not divulge any details because I am not the spokesperson of whatsoever bloc."

Election Day

The Deputy Speaker election might probably be held on January 11 or at most on Thursday.

Accordingly, the Legislature will resume work the second working Monday in January - January 11, 2021, at which time there will be a formal program. Four former Representatives who have become Senators-elect including Deputy Speaker Prince Moye, Rep. Edwin M. Snowe, Rep. Zoe Pennue and Rep. Jeremiah Koung might present their elective letters to the Secretary of the Senate for subsequent swearing-in as Senators on Tuesday or Thursday creating four by-elections in four counties. Their departure will leave the membership of the House at 67.

If Representatives-elect Saah Teah Foko and Samson Wiah present their respective elective letters from NEC, they will be sworn in and the Representatives will increase to 69. Foko and Wiah will replace the late Rep. Munah Pelham Youngblood and Jay Nagbe Sloh respectively having won the by-elections.

Expectedly, 69 Representatives will vote or in a rare case -- more than 69 lawmakers might vote.

Rare Case

There are legal grounds for Senators-elect; Rep. Edwin M. Snowe, Rep. Zoe Pennue and Rep. Jeremiah Koung to participate in the Deputy Speaker election if the trio delayed or failed to submit their elective letters from the NEC to Senate, thereby still making them Representatives.

Or in the event where any of the three is in court as the case may be with Koung now, of which NEC hasn't given an elective letter, that Representative also has the right to vote in the Deputy's election because he remains a Representative.

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