By Henry Kolenky in Maryland County
MONROVIA: In what has been described thus far as the biggest shock and upset in the just concluded October 10, 2023 elections, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Bhofal Chamber lost his bid to return to the national legislature when he was surprisingly defeated by little known Anthony F. William for the Sodoken-Pleebo District of Maryland County according to the tally sheet pasted on the bulletin of the NEC in Harper, Maryland County.
According to our reporter covering the elections in Maryland County, the tally sheet pasted on the bulletin of the NEC in Harper has it that the eventual winner Williams polled 8, 158 while Chambers who was going for a fourth win consecutively since 2005 got 8,122, a slight margin of 36 votes.
The defeat to Chambers has thus far punctuated a colorful history of legislative politics in the county as he has been in the national legislature for a record 18 years, where 6 of those years as Speaker of the 54th national legislature. At one time he contested for the Senate to represent the county at the upper chambers of the national legislature but was defeated in the process in 2014.
During his opposition days as a representative and a top partisan of the then Congress for Democratic Change (CDC), he was a vocal politician on the frontline against some of the policies of former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. At a point he took his opposition stance against the government further when he refused to shake the hands of Madam Sirleaf at a state function, drawing mixed reactions to the incident from the public.
Some political allies close to the Speaker said he was making frantic efforts to retain his current position in the next dispensation and his re-election was “just a matter of formality since he was very sure of being returned without much hurdle as in the past”
Having survived some of the toughest challenges in the past, Chambers did not see this shock ouster coming and if it was ever a bet placed on the game, many, including himself would have waved it off. Definitely it is something he will not easily fathom in the days to come and could now be hanging his political future to a win for President George Manneh Weah to win his own re-election so as to seek a cover as he restrategizes and rebrands his future pursuit.
“As it stands, the honorable man will be praying for President Weah to win the re-election and as a staunch member of the ruling establishment could be given a presidential appointment. Otherwise, what I can tell you, his future politically is in the balance”, a pundit told The Analyst last night.
Critics of Chambers said his tenure as Speaker is a far cry from what he professed to have stood for when he was in the opposition as he was more interested being in the good books with the executive branch under President Weah. He was said not having a history of ever opposing or taking a radical stand against some of the excesses of the executive branch of government.
Further reports from our reporter have it that young Williams who is a former student leader and an activist premised his platform on “giving back Sodoken-Pleebo district back to the people and making the people to decide their own future without any interference lording it over the people”
Driven by many the young people, majority of whom are students and unemployed youths, Williams’ campaign gained much more traction with the way he promised to lead as a lawmaker, highlighting the failure of Chambers and what he hope to do differently to “address the level of underdevelopment and neglect in the district”
“We cannot talk about 3 concession agreements in the district when we don’t have public latrine for the people, clean water, better schools, health care. We will address these things when we are elected by renegotiating for better offer for our people.
“We should be asking Mr. Bhofal Chambers what he has done with our constituency money he has been collecting besides his salaries. We should be asking him for his stewardship, what has he done for our people and the district.
“This is a social contract I am entering with you. Give me power, let me give you the basic necessities you need for the district. Give me power let me renegotiate for your concessions, give me power for your roads, better health and education systems, let me give you better representation”, Williams said in some of his campaign speeches posted by his supporters online.
Meanwhile, besides Chambers, another lawmaker, Rev. Dr. Isaac Roland Blalu from the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) may not also return to the house of parliament in 2024 January based on the preliminary results of NEC thus far.
According to the preliminary results from Barrobo Electoral #3, Representative Roland accumulated the total votes of 3,927, while an independent candidate Austin B. Taylor obtained 4,322 votes with the margin of 395 votes in favor of the challenger, Taylor
Only Rep. P. Mike Jurry and Senator J. Gble-Bo Brown are the two candidates of the ruling party who are in a comfortable lead and stand a better chance of returning to house of parliament.