The outgoing Liberian Senate Pro Tempore said that while there were some flaws in the December 20 special senatorial election, Liberians must respect and improve on their electoral process.
Senator Gbehzongar Findley of Grand Bassa County lost his seat to Jonathan Kaipay of the opposition Liberty Party.
Elections Commission Chair Jerome Korkoya announced the final results Saturday. It appears the ruling Unity Party will have won seven or eight Senate seats when the legislative body reconvenes next month.
Findley said that with no party in the majority, whoever becomes the new Senate Pro Tempore will have to learn to build consensus in order to get legislation passed.
He said some of the irregularities that took place on Election Day in his province and other parts of the country included ballot buying.
“We feel strongly that the Elections Commission needs to look at the process again, perhaps move to electronic voting so that people don’t go about trying to buy ballot papers [and] stuffing the ballot boxes, and let the people express their true feelings in the process,” he said.
Findley added that even though there were irregularities, he accepts the results.
“Even if we had an opinion that it was fair or unfair, the results are the results. We must respect that democratic process. This is the best we have. We also look forward to improving on the system,” he said.
He said people were buying ballots on Election Day not only in his province of Grand Bassa, but elsewhere around the country.
“People were buying ballots on Election Day; people were paying people on Election Day to go and vote, not only Grand Bassa County did that happen, [but] in other parts of the country. But, like I said, this is a process that we must give credibility to. Nothing is perfect, and we must improve on that so that we don’t have this problem in the future,” Findley said.
The outgoing Senate leader said no one political party will have the majority when the new Senate convenes in early January. That means the senators will have to rely on consensus building to pass legislation.
“As a former manager of the Senate, that was the situation in the past. No political party has the majority. And so, that makes it difficult to really pass legislation. But, at the same time, you have to be able to build coalitions; you have to be able to work with each other to be able to get legislation passed,” Findley said.
Findley described as “myth” allegations by some that Liberian legislators are too often subject to manipulation through bribery by the executive branch to pass certain legislation. Instead, he said the legislative process is one of give-and-take.
“You’ve got to understand that the executive could give some and take some. The legislature also has to give and take. Not everything the executive wants it gets; not everything the legislature wants it gets. And when these kinds of negotiations are ongoing, people assume that it is to the advantage of the executive. That is not true,” Findley said.
He said Liberians should drop the attitude that any time their legislators agree with the president that means they have been compromised. Findley called the view that lawmakers must always stand up to the president in order to be seen as effective a destructive one.