Liberia: Rep. Karfiah, former Bong Senator Yallah to Battle for Bong Senate Seat 2023￼
GBARNGA, Bong County – Having lunch with his trusted friend in December 2020 at a restaurant in Monrovia, Bong’s District Five representative Edward Karfiah observed that there would be no serious candidate to challenge him in the coming senatorial election in 2023.
Little did Rep. Karfiah know then that the man who would be standing in his way of winning as senator of Bong County was his friend of over 25 years, Henry Yallah.
The former Bong County senator, who had earlier announced his intentions to contest as representative of District Six, reportedly confirmed his Senate ambition to former District Three representative George Mulbah, who had called him to inquire about rumors surrounding his ambition.
“I will be contesting for the Senate because I’m feeling betrayed by my “brother” Edward Karfiah in whose favor I decided to relinquish my Senate ambition in 2020 to contest as representative in District Six. I have noticed that he’s not supporting my quest, but rather supporting William Thompson,” Yallah was quoted by Mulbah, who posted on his Facebook page about his move to reconcile the two friends.
But it appears any move to reconcile the two remains unimaginable as the once-promising relationship looks strained at the moment as supporters of both Yallah and Karfiah have been involved in a war of words over allegations that Karfiah didn’t support his Yallah’s failed 2020 re-election bid.
The allegations against Karfiah, according to many who followed Yallah’s campaign, could be difficult to prove for the fact that the District Five lawmaker publicly announced his support for Yallah on all of the radio stations. FrontPageAfrica can confirm that Karfiah financially supported Yallah’s ambition, both morally and financially. In fact, all of Karfiah’s road-building machines were used by Yallah during the campaign.
A look at Yallah’s Senate ambition
Yallah will be making his return to politics two years after he lost re-election to Senator Prince Moye. Yallah, of the CDC, has maintained a strong presence in the political scene in Bong County even before he was elected senator in 2011.
The former president of the Bong County Students Union (BONSU) had contested for the representative of electoral District Three in 2005 and lost by over 100 votes to George Mulbah.
Also, he has also enjoyed unfettered movement across parties, from the New Deal Movement in 2011 to the People’s Unification Party (PUP) and now President George Weah’s Congress for Democratic.
FrontPageAfrica has reliably gathered that Yallah’s bid has been reportedly encouraged by Vice President Jewel Howard-Taylor, who during the 2020 senatorial election branded him a “snake” and called on residents of the county not to elect him “because he failed to bring back the dividends of democracy during his nine-year tenure”.
And the odds that played against Yallah in 2020 seem to still be fresh on the minds of many residents of the county with many still unconvinced as to what difference would he make if elected senator.
A look at Karfiah’s Senate ambition
In earnest, Karfiah is seen by many as the candidate to beat. Karfiah, a two-term representative of District Five, has been overwhelmed by the gale of endorsements by different political, social, and women groups in the county.
He is now called “Mr. Projects” in acknowledgment of numerous projects he had embarked on across the county for the past 10 years. Karfiah touts his tenure as a lawmaker for providing scholarships for students, constructing of schools and bridges across the county, and providing loans for women.
Karfiah enjoys the support of scores of influential leaders of the county many of whom supported Senator Prince Moye’s ambition in 2020, including former Deputy Speaker and two-term representative of District One, Tokpah J Mulbah, George Mulbah, former Bong superintendent Selena Polson-Mappy, and others.
Since their strained relationship, Karfiah’s first win over Yallah came in the District Two by-election in December 2020 when his sponsored candidate James Kolleh defeated Yallah’s candidate, Melvin Salvage, who finished second. For the record, it was the first time the two friends politically went their separate ways.
The views of residents in Bong County
Many residents of Bong County have been baffled by Karfiah and Yallah’s decision to contest in the same election due to their long-standing ties. While some residents have hailed Yallah’s decision to contest, many residents appear to be rooting for Karfiah rather than Yallah.
Jack Benson, a resident of Gbarnga, told FrontPageAfrica: “If the pending 2023 senatorial election in Bong is between Yallah and Karfiah, I will support Karfiah because he has shown to be someone worthy of public trust.”
Grace Flomo, a resident of Zota’s Farvee, told FrontPageAfrica: “I haven’t seen Karfiah in person but what I have heard on the radio he’s a good man far better than Yallah in terms of human relations. I would vote Karfiah over Yallah any day.”
Emmanuel Tamatai, a youth leader in Gbarnga and a member of the former ruling Unity Party, said: “Karfiah has demonstrated leadership over the years and deserves being elected senator of Bong County. My family and I will vote for him in 2023.”