MONROVIA-The just-ended senatorial and Representative elections have created feelings of anger in many politicians and to some extent , many are blaming the National Elections Commission and the ruling establishment. This is because of many unresolved electoral matters and if care is not taken, it could lead to serious political conflict that may paint a negative picture of the government, many Liberians have predicted.
The National Elections Commission-NEC officials, many people say that they are not independent enough to abide by the rules for fear of possible removal. One of such persons who made the statement this week when he appeared on a local Talk Show was Sinoe county Senator J. Milton Teahjay.
He said that it was unfortunate that the NEC is unable to adequately handle election cases in the shortest possible time, according to law. “The performance of NEC is extremely low,” he said.
According to him, if the NEC is taking long time to settle only by elections, he wonders what will happen come 2023 for presidential.
He is not the only person, but several Liberians think that there is anger and disenchantment among many people who may one way or the other express it in different way.
“Some will decide to use undemocratic means, while some will use the right one, Samson R. Kollie, a student at the University said.
The National Chairman of the People’s Liberation Party (PLP), Wilmot Paye, even called on Liberians to form a united front to democratically take back their country from those he called “evil and corrupt” forces existing in national leadership to suppress growth and development and accumulate ill-gotten wealth to the detriment of the citizenry.
These comments were made over the weekend when a former official of the ex-governing Unity Party (UP), Kansualism M. Kansuah and over 150 others officially joined the PLP at a ceremony held at the party’s headquarters in Congo Town.
Also, Hon. Nyumalin Francis Sakila of district number one of Lofa county said they were running out of patience with the continues delay by the NEC to certificate Hon. Brownie Samuka, who won the election in Lofa County.
Since the December 8, 2020 Special Senatorial Elections was held, there have been claims and counterclaims in many quarters relating to the conduct of elections.
Some of the candidates have uprightly said they were cheated in the process, while others are claiming that some senior government officials have hands in the decision making process; with different motives in the ongoing political stalemate.
Counties of Concern:
There is tension between madam Edith Gongloe Weh, candidate of the opposition Collaborating Political Parties-CPP. After hearing the case, the NEC declared Jeremiah Koung the winner and was certificated. She has decided to take the case to the Supreme Court. “We think this is a serious problem coming here. The NEC and the government need to be careful in this case. All over the world, post-election matters can lead to problems at times if care is not taken,’ Richard S. Mengone, a resident of Central Monrovia said. Many women groups have expressed their total disgust over the case.
Rivercess: There has been contention between
Wellington Geevon Smith(former journalist) and Steve Tequah. Tequah challenged the victory of Smith and called for recount.
The Supreme Court is also hearing case between them.
In the NEC Board of Commissioners ruling read by Commissioner Boakai Dukuly, he said; “because it is essential to our democracy that ballot must be accurately counted, and when necessarily recounted. This BOC believes that in order to assure Rivercess voters that their votes were counted for their respective candidates on 8 December 2020, recounts in the 104 polling places were ordered.”
Following that, it was said that the National Port Authority-NPA would help give about US$30,000(Thirty thousand United States dollars) to the NEC to facilitate the recount. The NPA boss, whom many accuse of supporting Steve denied ever saying such.
Currently, there is stalemate in the result of elections from Gbarpolu.
There is election waft between candidate of the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) Alfred Koiwood who is representing District number one of that county and a market woman, independent female candidate, Botoe Kanneh have been at each other’s throat.
On Tuesday, March 16, 2021, the Justices listened to oral arguments between lawyers of the two rivalry individuals, but there was no date set by the justices to make a final determination.
For Grand Kru, the dispute was addressed.
In Lofa, former Defense minister has not been certificated. Mr. J. Brownie Samukai, of the Collaborating Political Party-CPP is fighting a legal battle for the AFL’s money, over a million United states dollars for which he was taken to court. He agreed to repay said amount.
While the NEC was in the process to certificate him, a prohibition was filed by the Movement for progressive Change political leader, Simeon Freeman. But this has angered many people on grounds that it is an attempt to deny him take seat.
At a recent press conference, the CPP drew the attention of the government on what they called “serious ongoing threats to Liberia’s peace, security and democracy”.
“For the CPP, and all well-meaning Liberians, this is unacceptable! Enough is enough!”
It said, the duty to protect Liberia’s democracy is not one they take lightly.
“Therefore, we announce today that we stand with the Supreme Court in a call for the full enforcements of both of its final decisions – the first to finally determine guilt and the satisfactory punishment therefor, and the second to finally determine the winner in the Midterm Senatorial Elections in Lofa County, as well as the attendant instructions to proceed to certificate the winner, Senator-elect Brownie J. Samukai, without further delays.”
Members of the CPP said they will strongly resist, by a combination of political and legal actions, any nefarious effort to undermine the rule of law by what the group called “cherry picking decisions” of the nation’s highest court that are enforceable, and thereby risk the country’s peace, security and democracy.
The Court ruling in the Former Defense Boss case
“The appellants are all hereby sentenced to serve a term of two years each in a common jail. However, the sentences shall be suspended provided the appellants shall restitute the full amount of US$1,147.656.35 (One Million One Hundred Forty Seven Thousand Six Hundred Fifty Six 35/100 United States Dollars) or fifty percent thereof within six months and thereafter enter appropriate arrangements to pay the remaining portion in one calendar year. Shall the appellants fail or refuse to restitute as stated above, then and in that case, they shall be incarcerated in the common jail and remain therein until the full amount is paid or liquidated at the rate of US$25.00 per month as provided for by law.”
“I think some people who are aggrieved from some of these election relate matters might have been behind this arson attack. But we condemn it in the strongest terms. We do not want any problem in this country,” Aaron Smith a caller said.
Another one added: “I see trouble coming soon if election matters are not taken care of soon. Who knows, what they have started in a small way, could end up in a different way,” Rebecca Smith said.
The Chief Justice of Liberia, Cllr. Francis Korkpor also frowned on the NEC by saying that it was taking too long a time to settle election matters. He made the statement recently at his office. He said such delay was not healthy for the country.
Arson attack on NEC
With all these anger, on Monday night, the headquarters of the National Elections Commission was attacked according to a press statement issued in Monrovia by NEC. Unknown persons threw petrol bombs on the compound of the NEC Headquarters which set ablaze a double cabin pickup, marked LB-6868 and the zinc roof of the garage.
The NEC in the release placed the estimated cost of the damages done at about US$45, 000 and that preliminary investigation proved additional unexploded petrol bombs were found near the NEC fence on the 10th Street side.
This tension could be more if all of the electoral disputes are not addressed in time.