Citizens of Wolapolu Clan in Zota District are calling on the Liberian Government through its Legislative branch to change the election’s date in an effort to provide voting opportunity for rural Liberians.
The citizens, many of whom were unable to participate in the 2017 general and Presidential elections attributed their alleged failure to exercise their franchise due to bad road condition.
Liberia records one of the longest rainy season from May to October, with occasional showers from November through to December.
They said during the election on October 10, 2017, many of them could not access the voting centers to cast their ballots following a heavy down pour of rain which left the roads inaccessible.
“We left from here that morning and we chartered car to carry us but unfortunately, we were stock in the center of the road for more than seven hours. After we reached in Bellefani where the polling center is, it was already late” Prontokpah Nokortrun, the Town Chief of Kpaimue told Newsman.
Mr. Nokortrun said they did not vote at that time due to a heavy down-pull of rain which resulted to bad road condition in the region.
“At least when the date of the election is changed, from the rainy season to dry season, many of us who are living in rural parts of Liberia will be able to form part of the decision making processes of our Country” he added.
He told Journalist that it is important for the Liberian government through its Legislative branch to ensure a change in the election’s date as doing so will be an added advantage for rural Liberians.
Also speaking, the youth President and Women Chairlady of Sinkor, Amos Mulbah and Gormah Duanjhie said an adjustment in the election’s date will not only help eligible voters but also the National Elections Commission or NEC.
“When they change the date, it will help NEC because poll workers will not be disturbed by rain but they will rather do their jobs better” the Sinkor Youth President maintained.
He said they prefer voting during dry season but any effort to uphold the contemporary date of the elections, there will always be low turnout due to the rain and bad road networks.
There are more than twelve villages in the Sinkor region with more than two thousand inhabitants.
Eligible voters from the region mostly transport themselves or sometimes walk to Bellefani (Zota District Headquarters) to exercise their democratic rights.
According to the citizens, a change in the date of the election will make them to cope with the road condition on grounds that it will not be as worse as it has always been during the rainy season.
Meanwhile, a former Representative Candidate of Bong County electoral District #3 Jerry Kerkulah Kollie has attributed his defeat to the poor attendance at the election.
Mr. Jerry Kerkulah Kollie, former Candidate Bong County
Mr. Kollie said he strongly support the citizens who are requesting a change of the election’s date maintaining, such change will also help Contestants.
“I was defeated because those who were to vote for me from my strongholds were all unable to vote as a result of the rain during the election on Tuesday, October 10, 2017” Mr. Kollie said.
According to him, if the rain had not disturbed voters from his strongholds, he would have gotten a huge number because majority of the citizens were willing to vote him.
According to NEC official website, the total number of 2,183,629 eligible voters registered during the 2017 Presidential and Representative Elections.
Out of that number, 1,641,922 constituting 75.2% of the total registered Voters exercised their constitutional right for the first round election.
The number drastically reduced to 1,218,124 constituting to 55.8% during the second round election between former Vice President Joseph Nyumah Boakai of Unity Party and Mr. George Manneh Weah of the Coalition for Democratic Change.
At the same time, the National Elections upper Bong Magistrate Daniel Newland has stated that if the citizens of Zota want a change in the election’s date, there is a need for them to start engaging their Lawmaker.
“We can only tell the citizens to engage their Lawmaker because he is the one representing them and making change in the election date needs to be done through a referendum and not by the NEC,” Magistrate Newland told Journalist.
When contacted, Bong County Electoral District Representative Robert Flomo Womba committed himself to ensuring the implementation of the will of the citizens.
Rep. Womba said he is representing his people and their concerns should be addressed.
“I am representing them and whatever they say, I have to do it because they are my employers” he added.
The District four Lawmaker has promise to engage his fellow lawmakers concerning the issue.By: Joseph Titus Yekeryan-Edited