Provisional results from the 2014 Special Senatorial Election were released via radio broadcast late Saturday, immediately following the closing of the polls nationwide. They show a trend of sweeping leads by the opposition in nearly all 15 counties – a “tsunami victory” according to political commentators cited in the Liberian Observer.
Among the 139 candidates vying for 15 seats, the ones who drew most attention were former soccer star George Oppong Weah of the Congress for Democratic Change and Robert Sirleaf, the Unity Party candidate and youngest son of Liberia’s president.
“This was the third times George Weah has gone for electoral positions and this time he has won,” wrote Liberian journalist Nvasekie Konneh. “This was a do or die battle for him. Is he going for the big job in 2017? This victory is certainly an answer.”
“For Mr. Weah to hold the largest opposition political party together for close to 10 years says something about his ability to lead,” he said.
Unofficial results released by news organizations showed a rough day for incumbents, particularly those of the ruling Unity Party backed by President Sirleaf, also known as “Ma Ellen.”
Rodney Sieh, publisher and managing editor of FrontPage Africa, said that if the unofficial provisional results hold, opposition parties could win as many as seven or eight new seats in the Senate.
Former rebel leader Prince Y. Johnson, who has been a senator since 2005 for Nimba County, and the wife of former President Charles Taylor, Jewel Howard Taylor of Bong County, were both doing well.
Sieh predicted that Sirleaf could find it difficult working with some of the newly elected senators, including Varney Sherman, chairman of the ruling Unity Party with whom she has had rocky relationship.
President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s government had delayed the polls, originally due in October, amid concerns that campaigning might worsen the spread of the Ebola virus. The Supreme Court ruled this month that the election must go ahead.
The country has about 1.9 million registered voters among a population of four million, more than 600,000 of whom live in Montserrado Country, the capital region.
While Sirleaf failed to clean out all the corruption in government, she did chalk up some notable gains for the country. Pope Francis, following the Ebola situation in Africa, sent a Vatican representative to Liberia recently.
The representative unveiled a small action plan to assist with the Ebola crisis consisting of Education, Care for Orphans, Support Healthcare, Psychosocial Support and Pastoral Approach to Burial Practices.
Also, this month a new contract for the lease of an oil block was ratified by the Senate. Some $22 million was paid for the lease transaction. Contractors on the contract are from the U.S., Nigeria and Liberia.