Where are they headed?

At long last the race for the Presidency which saw 20 candidates competing in the 10 October first round of polling has narrowed down to two contenders: Senator George Weah of the Coalition for Democratic Change or CDC and incumbent Vice President Joseph Nyumah Boakai of the ruling Unity Party or UP.

With the results now official, questions abound as to which way the remaining 18 candidates will be headed. Liberian politics is more of an individual than ideas, thus leaving commentators and journalists guessing.

The National Elections Commission on Thursday, 19 October released final results of last Tuesday’s presidential poll with Weah of the CDC obtaining 38.4 percent of the total votes cast from all 5,380 polling places and Vice President Boakai of the UP receiving 28.8 percent, among a total of 20 candidates, which automatically qualifies them for a run-off in November.

The two parties have maintained this runner-up position in three presidential elections since 2005 with the CDC twice losing to Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. This time around, it is poised to instead, face her Vice President in November’s runoff. In order to win the poll, a candidate is constitutionally required to obtain 50 percent plus one of the total ballots cast across the country.

Political analysts say the real fight for the Executive Mansion has just started as both parties in the runoff would need support from the remaining 18 candidates no matter how small to get elected.

The Standard Bearer of the United People’s Party (UPP) recently gave his support to the CDC, but that pledge was strongly resisted by some executives of the party, including Dr. T. Q. Harris and Mr. Blamo Nelson, explained that the UPP has reached no definite decision on the matter.

The New Dawn periscopes the candidates that did not make it to the runoff, particularly the most outstanding three among them (Brumskine, Cummings and Johnson) to analyze which side each of them may likely pledge support and for what reasons in a heavily regionalized and tribal political contest.

The Liberty Party of Cllr. Charles Walker Brumskine, Alternative National Congress of Coca Cola former executive Alexander B. Cummings and Senator Prince Yormie Johnson of the Movement for Democracy and Reconstruction are key determinants in who becomes Liberia’s 25th President for the next six years.

All three are publicly supportive of change and an opposition victory. But the opposition bloc had never been convincingly committed to galvanizing a united front to achieving this as demonstrated by the collapse of the Nimba Declaration which they signed up to prior to the 10 October polls.

Cllr. Brumskine of the LP is navigating between the Red Sea and Pharaoh’s marauding army. He would not commit suicide or give his votes to the ruling UP, and is likely to settle things out with the CDC in order to lend his support, if he truly wants to see an opposition victory on 7 November.

In 2011, Weah and Brumskine attempted collaborating but that did not work out and each person eventually went their way. Both parties are perhaps still nursing their fresh wounds from the 20 September bloody clash in Sanniquellie, Nimba County which reportedly left two partisans of the LP stabbed and subsequently admitted in hospital.

On the other hand, the ANC, an offspring of Weah’s Congress for Democratic Change (CDC) is seriously reading the political calculus in determining which way to go. Its leader Alexander Cummings says whoever wins the presidency, he would not take a job in government, but stands firm on principles that he wants to see implemented to move the country forward.

Despite his debut on the Liberian political landscape, he gained voters’ attention and admiration following his positive ratings from the two presidential debates held before the first round of election. His best choice could be returning the ANC to its mother organization, as its founding chairman, Orishall Gould, is also founding chairman of the CDC, but parted company with party after the 2011 convention held in Tubmanburg, Bomi County when the so-called Sabu Unit, a group of party thugs allegedly chased him away from the convention center.

The ANC giving support to the governing Unity Party could be a betrayal of opposition trust and the party’s quest to effect its “Real change that you can trust” slogan that it had campaigned on.

Senator Prince Yormie Johnson of the Movement for Democracy and Reconstruction (MDR) could again become a kingmaker like he did during the 2011 runoff between the two parties when he gave his support to Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, whom he described as “lesser of two evils”.

For sure, no one can clearly predict where the unpredictable senator would lend his support as he holds the vital key to his native Nimba County, which has the highest number of registered voters after Montserrado.

According to the final results from NEC, Sen. Johnson obtains 53.5percent of the total votes cast in his native Nimba County, followed by UP’s Boakai 19.9 percent, and Weah’s Coalition 8.0 percent, respectively.

Montserrado County has the highest number of registrants (777,503 voters) followed by Nimba County with 279,572 and Bong County, 208,150.

Weah commands the highest votes in Montserrado (48.9 percent) while Boakai leads in his native Lofa County with 78.5 percent.

But for certainty, any of the two candidates desirous of winning the runoff cannot afford to ignore LP’s Charles Brumskine with 149,495 votes followed by MDR’s. Prince Johnson, 127,666 votes and ANC’s Cummings with 112,067 votes followed by the rest.

By Jonathan Browne

Its official

The National Elections Commission (NEC) has announced that ruling Unity Party (UP) presidential candidate Vice President Joseph Nyuma Boakai and opposition Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) candidate Sen. George Manneh Weah will contest the November 7, 2017 presidential run-off election, due to failure by either of 20 candidates to win a 50 percent plus one vote needed to be declared president.

Following the 10 October polls, Mr. Weah obtained 38 percent of the total votes cast, followed by Mr. Boakai who also obtained 28 percent of the votes. Liberian Constitution requires that a presidential candidate obtains 50 percent plus one of the total votes, failure of which the NEC declares run-off between the two leading candidates.

On Thursday, 19 October, NEC Chairman Cllr. Jerome George Korkoya declared political campaign opened for the November 7 presidential run-off. He urges the two candidates to observe the rules throughout the campaign period that runs from 19 October and ends on 5 November at 11:59pm.

For the October 10 elections, the NEC registered 26 political parties and qualified 20 presidential candidate and over 1000 representatives candidates that were battling for just 73 seats at the House of Representatives.

The NEC announced the final results for the October 10 presidential election and the final results for most of those that won representative seats on Thursday before declaring campaign opened for a run - off. Chairman Korkoya calls on both UP and CDC to be peaceful during the campaigning period, saying it will end November 5 at
midnight wile voting is Tuesday, November 7.

Chairman Korkoya announced that the CDC of Mr. Weah obtained the total votes of 596,037 (38.4 percent), while Boakai of UP obtained 446, 716 (28.8 percent) of the total votes cast.

Opposition Liberty Party (LP's) defeated candidate Cllr. Charles Brumskine took third place with the total votes of 149,295 (9.6 percent), opposition Movement for Reconstruction and Democracy (MDR's) Sen. Prince Y. Johnson obtained 127,666 (8.2) while opposition Alternative National Congress (ANC's) Alexander Cummings had 112,067
(7. 2 percent).

Mr. Cummings was closely followed by Benoni Urey of the All Liberian Party (ALP) with the total votes of 24, 0246 (1. 6 percent) and Dr. Joseph Mills Jones of the Movement for Economic Empowerment (MOVEE) who obtained 12854 (0.8 percent).

According to the NEC boss, total votes of the 2.1 million dully registered voters during the 2017 representatives and presidential elections is 1066422 (75.19 percent) and the total invalid votes stand at 88,574.

By E. J. Nathaniel Daygbor--Edited by Winston W. Parley

"I thought I would have won"

Opposition Alternative National Congress (ANC) defeated presidential candidate Mr. Alexander Cummings says he actually thought that he would have gotten the seat of the presidency in the just ended October 10 presidential and representatives’ elections.

“Our support was genuine, lots of people worked hard supporting the new comer to the political scene. Am grateful, and I want to thank them”, Mr. Cummings said Thursday, 19 October on a local radio in Monrovia.

Notwithstanding the support of his partisans and work done so far, Mr. Cummings says he realizes that time may have been a factor for his failure to win the presidency.

He says he was always confident that he [would have] had a very good chance if he had made a case to show the Liberian people, but notes that he never had enough time.

The ex-Coca - Cola executive turned - politician says there were lessons learned from the just - ended elections, saying no matter how well the election is run, "we" need to make sure that the electoral process truly reflects the will of the people.

Mr. Cummings expresses believe that the ANC could have done a better job in terms of poll watching processes, and ground gain on the day of the election.

He says he takes responsibility as party leader for the fact that the process was not robust and as effective as it should have been.

Cummings says the last lesson learned was that it takes longer time to convince a country to support you in becoming its leader.

He joins some parties to complain that the just ended election conducted by the National Elections Commission (NEC) was characterized by fraud, adding that the execution of the election was not very competent.

Regarding who he will support in the runoff election, Mr. Cummings says he still believes that he was the best candidate in the race, but the runoff choice is about what the party will be willing to commit to on behalf of the Liberian people.

According to Mr. Cummings, "reputational risk" will be associated with whichever direction he decides to go, saying he came to the process with reputation and integrity, and he will leave reputation and integrity.

He appealed to Liberians to demand whoever they chose to maintain the free speech, fighting corruption and taking out wages and make sure that Liberians are not spectators to the economy.

Mr. Cummings says he does not seek to have any job, no matter who wins, vowing to be a constructive opposition for the next years and build up the ANC for the six years.

By Samuel P. Kamara--Edited by Winston W. Parley

CDC narrowly leads Lower House

The competition between the Coalition of Democratic Change or CDC and the ruling Unity Party or UP for control of the House of Representatives is as competitive as ever with the former narrowly winning 21 of the 73 seats in that august body followed by the latter with 18, the People Unification Party (PUP) five seats followed by the rest among them Independent Candidates, according to final poll results released here by the National Elections Commission on Thursday, 19 October.

The CDC now leads majority seats in the House of Representatives, putting it in a strong position whether as an opposition or a winning party.

Announcing the final results for both the Presidential and Representatives Elections at the headquarters of the National Elections Commission in Monrovia, NEC Chairman Cllr. Jerome Korkoya says Grand Cape County Electoral District#1 and Nimba County Electoral District#8 are excluded due to ongoing investigation of the poll outcomes in these polling places.

Maintaining strong grip in the Lower House is crucial for both the president and the ruling party as it creates the advantage for the passage of laws that would advance the agenda of the government of the day.

A Weah’s presidency could enjoy an easy ride on Capitol Hill, given the outcome so far, while on the other hand, if the governing UP were to obtain a third term at the ballot box on November 7, it would have to set up a strong lobbying team to have its agenda goes thru.

Notwithstanding, the UP would not have to worry, as it maintains collaboration with the PUP, which obtains five seats and is ready to help advance an UP agenda brought on the floor.

-Story by Jonathan Browne

Ellen condemns hate speeches

Barely a week after the end of first round of elections, President Ellen Johnson - Sirleaf says government's attention has been drawn to displays on social media that are extremely inimical to the survival of Liberia's peace and democracy.

Delivering a special statement on Thursday, 19 October, Mrs. Sirleaf condemned the abuse and misuse of social media here through the use of invectives, hate speech and outright vulgarity which denigrates adversaries with whom there might be disagreement.

"In light of the progress we have collectively made, I call on our fellow citizens to remain civil, responsible and continue to be tolerant of diverging opinions and views that might not necessarily be favorable to ours," she says.

The President warns that resorting to profanities on social media contributes nothing to the national discourse, but only serves to taint Liberians' national and international image. She urges that Liberians must all express their indignation to this unacceptable way of politicking and seek to continue the decent democratic values that
have brought them this far as a nation and people.

"As Liberians pat themselves on the back for peacefully voting in the October 10 polls, all must continue to demonstrate our love for country by and through our actions," she adds.

President Sirleaf says the greatest task must focus on how Liberians consolidate the democratic gains made over the last 12 years, by voting peacefully and nationalistically, respecting the law and keeping the peace for the greater good of the country.-- Press release

“Opposition victory best for Liberia”

The Association of Opposition Political Parties Youth Wings says it strongly believes that it is about time that a member of the opposition takes stake power rather than the ruling Unity Party (UP).

“This is the time for opposition to handle the affairs of the country because we strongly believe that opposition victory is the best for prosperous Liberia and other citizens that are calling for a change,” the group said at a news conference on Wednesday, 18 October at opposition United People's Party (UPP) headquarters in Sinkor.

Addressing the news conference, the Youth Chair for opposition Movement for Democracy and Reconstruction (MDR) of defeated candidate Prince Y. Johnson, Mr. Czar Palay restated the association's objective to support opposition victory in the election, saying it is the best victory that will transform Liberia into a better country.

He says the association of opposition political [parties youth leagues] is a combination of 12 opposition political parties youth leagues structure that are represented by their national youth chairpersons.

According to him, they are 12 opposition youth leaders who have signed onto the resolution from LP, UPP, MPC, MDR, RDC, MOVEE, ALP, CDC, LTP, LIP, ULD, and the ANC.

Mr. Palay says the association will not allow its member parties' concerns to be dashed without a due process, saying they will hold true to their words.

The group was recently established in September with the objective of claiming opposition victory for the Liberian presidency.

Also speaking, the Youth Chair of opposition Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) Jefferson Koije said they have come to redefine their understanding about Liberia, saying though they can differ with ideas but Liberia remains the only center of the disagreement.

He says most often people think that young people are just bag -toting soldiers for their leaders, saying "we want to erase that perception that is wrong."

According to him, the young people are 65% of the country's population, saying they have come to say the political young people of Liberia have an idea about the future of this country.

For his part, the youth chair of opposition Liberty Party (LP) Cephas M.D. Flanzamaton says they are young people with like minds who have realized that the twelve years of rule under the current administration didn’t just affect any sector, but rather the young people.

He says the young people are in dominance of this country, and as a result, anything that affects the young people affects the country at large. He concludes that the recent election held on October 10 was not in the true idea of democracy.

By Lewis S. Teh--Edited by Winston W. Parley

Opposition youth wants speedy probe into election complaints

The Association of Opposition Political Party Youth League has called on the National Elections Commission (NEC) to expeditiously probe electoral complaints raised by some political parties in the October 10 presidential and representatives’ elections.

Speaking Wednesday, 18 October at a press conference in Monrovia, the group said concerns coming from the Liberty Party (LP) and Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC), among others, relative to electoral irregularities “should be given ears.”

“The association will not allow any of its member parties concerned to be dashed without due process,” it said, noting that “the Association wants to restate that its objectives is to support an opposition victory in the 2017 general and presidential elections.”

The League is a conglomeration of like-minded opposition political parties national youth wings represented by 12 persons that chair party youth wings.

It can be recalled that the opposition Liberty Party (LP) of Charles Brumskine alleged that it had allegedly uncovered irregularities and fraud in the recent polls conducted by the NEC.

The LP called on the NEC to abort the official announcement of results, noting that failure to do so will leave the party with no alternative but to file a lawsuit against the commission.

The Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) led by Senator George Weah has also expressed dissatisfaction over the 87,071 invalid votes that NEC said it has tallied so far, something the Youth League is urging the NEC not to take lightly as the nation goes through the democratic process.

The Association stresses that it remains true to its position that “an opposition victory is a victory for a prosperous Liberia.”

Meanwhile, the Association has commended all of its members for upholding the nation’s peace and stability as Liberians exercise their democratic franchise in the elections which have been categorized so far as “free, fair and transparent” by international and local observers.

By Bridgett Milton--Edited by Winston W. Parley

PATEL votes out national chairman

The Patriotic Entrepreneurs of Liberia (PATEL) says it has voted out its acting national chairman for gross violation, and failure to avail himself for conference.

PATEL says in a release issued Thursday, 19 October under the signature of Secretary General and approve by its national chairman Dominic Nimely that the executive members of the group wish to inform the public that Mr. Presley Tehweh is no longer chairman of the organization as of August 11, 2017.

According to PATEL, the action to vote out their acting chairman was agreed upon by a majority vote in a board meeting of the incorporator,
executive and county coordinator of the organization, and it was based on some reasons.

The group is alleging dictatorial, negative behavior, creating irreparable rift that cause disenfranchisement to several incorporators, and executive members of the organization.

PATEL says another reason for the chairman's dismissal was the lack of ability to properly structure the organization to systematically and adequately function as an entity, and spending the organization's
funds without any approval from members of the organization.

The group says every time it makes effort to discuss issue relating to the growth of the organization; Mr. Presley Tehweh will not want to sit and listen. Due to his alleged action, PATEL says majority members of the organization during its recent meeting decided to vote out its former chairman.

The group also adds that out of the many allegations made against the former chairman, he allegedly refused to adhere to [demands] of the board and executives of the organization.

Meanwhile, PATEL narrates that given the nature of the situation that unfolded, the former chairman has resolved to accuse some members of the organization for forgery as well as taking a lawsuit to place an injunction on the activities of the organization, and its executive members.

But PATEL clarifies here that the information reported in few local dailies including the New Republic, Concord Times, and the Daily Observer newspapers that one of its members Mr. Caesar Morris was jail is false.

The group says those stories reported about Mr. Morris were baseless, as well as misleading, and at the same time PATEL requests that those media institutions grant the organization a platform where they can give out the proper information concerning the matter.--Press release

NEC declares run-off today

The board of commissioners of the National Elections Commission (NEC) will today, Thursday, 19 October announce final results of the October 10, 2017 Presidential and Representatives’ Elections, which is expected to be followed by the pronouncement of official political campaign for a runoff between Senator George Weah of the Coalition for Democratic Change and Vice President Joseph Nyumah Boakai of the ruling Unity Party.

The NEC’s Press and Public Affairs Director, Henry B. Flomo, discloses to this paper via mobile phone Wednesday, 18 October that NEC Chairman Cllr. Jerome George Korkoya will release the names of winners of the 73 electoral districts throughout the country.

Mr. Flomo explains that the press conference will also witness the declaration of the commencement of political campaign for the expected 8 November run-off presidential election that is likely between the governing UP and the CDC, forerunners from Tuesday’s polls.

The two contenders obtained the two highest percentages far ahead of 18 other presidential candidates, most of whom fell below one percent after the counting of 95 percent of the votes cast on 10 October.

According to the NEC, Mr. Weah’s CDC which is a conglomeration of the Congress for Democratic Change, the National Patriotic Party and the Liberian People’s Democratic Party obtains 572, 374 (39.0 percent), while Mr. Boakai’s UP has 427,544 (29.1 percent) of the total votes cast.

The two leading parties are followed by opposition Liberty Party (LP) of Cllr. Charles Walker Brumskine who secures 144,353 (9.8 percent); opposition Alternative National Congress (ANC) of Alexander B. Cummings, with 104,125 ( 7.1 percent) and Nimba County Senator Prince Johnson’s Movement for Democracy and Reconstruction (MDR), with 102,561 (7.0 percent) of the votes.

Chairman Jerome Korkoya discloses that the total valid votes from the polls are 1,466,748, while invalid vote is put at 84,057. The votes cast for the presidency is 1,550,805.

By E. J. Nathaniel Daygbor--Edited by Winston W. Parley

Invalid votes worry CDC

The Coalition for Democratic Change or CDC, one of the two forerunners from the 10 October presidential and representatives elections here says it is worried over the huge invalid votes from the poll, calling on the National Elections Commission to immediately embark on vigorous civic voter education ahead of the impending runoff to reduce the number of invalid votes, currently put at 84,057 by the NEC.

The CDC and the governing Unity Party are poised to go for a runoff in November after all 20 presidential candidates, who participated in the first round of polling failed to obtain 50 percent plus one of the total votes cast across the country as constitutionally required, to be declared winner.

Provisional poll results released by the NEC as of Sunday, `5 October from 5,151 of the 5,390 or 96.5 percent of the polling places put the Coalition for Democratic Change, which is a conglomeration of the Congress for Democratic Change, the National Patriotic Party and the Liberian People Democratic Party ahead with 572, 374 or 39.2 percent of the total votes cast, while the governing Unity Party has 427,544 or 29.1 percent of the total votes cast, followed by the Liberty Party of Cllr. Brumskine in third place with 144,353 or 9.8 percent of the total votes tabulated so far.

CDC national youth wing Chairman Jefferson Koijii in a news conference in Monrovia says the huge number of invalid votes should worry any political party or contender, and the country at large.

According to him, the Coalition provided ‘adequate’ voter education to its partisans and all Liberians that were within the reach of the training exercise prior to the polls, but to the dismay of the party, the NEC announced over 84,000 invalid votes, something, he describes as troubling.

NEC Chairman Cllr. Jerome George Korkoya says nearly 96 percent of the 5,380 polling places have been tallied, representing over 1.5 million votes.

Chairman Korkoya says the invalid votes occur because electorate in appropriately marked the ballots. He cites as an example, voters placing check marks against the names of two candidates, whereas an X or check mark or thumb print should only be placed against the candidate of a voter’s choice.

Mr. Koijii laments that over 84,000 invalid votes constitute about 25 percent of the 2.1 registered voters across the country, said numbers, he notes, have a propensity to have changed the current poll results, if only they were valid.

By E. J. Nathaniel Daygbor

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