-As NEC certificates five senators
To the dismay of many who had turned out Wednesday to witness the certifications of those who won the 8 December 2020 Special Senatorial Election, the National Elections Commission (NEC) only certificated five elected senators due to a political dark cloud hanging over the results of the remaining 10 senatorial seats.
A total of 15 senatorial seats were contested last month across the country, but results for nine of the seats are being challenged by rival candidates while voters in Gbarpolu County are due to cast ballots for the tenth seat in a particular area where voting was stalled due to political violence on Election Day, 8 December.
The National Elections Commission was therefore unable to certify at once all of the 14 candidates it had declared as winners of the senatorial race on Wednesday, 6 January as it awaited the outcome of the challenges brought by rival candidates.
At the ceremony, NEC Chairperson Madam Davidetta Browne Lansanah says of the 15 winners, 10 winners are facing challenges before the hearing officer of the commission and the Supreme Court for some allegations levied against them by their respective major contenders.
She narrates that the commission being a law – abiding institution which also believes in the rule of law, it has placed preliminary hold on the certification program until the matters are concluded legally.
Those certificated by the commission include Montserrado County Senator Abraham Darius Dillon, Grand Bassa County Senator Nyonblee Karnga – Lawrence, former Deputy House Speaker, now Bong County Senator Prince Moye, former House Speaker, now Margibi County Senator James Emmanuel Nuquay and former Liberian soccer star, now River Gee County Senator Jonathan Boycharles Sogbie.
The National Elections Commission is expected to rerun some electoral precincts in Gbarpolu County due to the electoral violence and reported intervention of the Poro and Sandi Societies on the day of voting.
The rest of the counties including Nimba, Lofa, Maryland, Sinoe and Rivercess are yet to see their newly elected senators certificated due to legal disputes against results from those counties. Other counties affected by legal disputes from the senatorial election results include Grand Cape Mount, Gbarpolu, Bomi, Grand Gedeh and Grand Kru.
These counties will have to wait until the NEC’s presiding officer Munah Ville or the Supreme Court can decide finally on the outcome of these disputed results.
It can be recalled that in Nimba County, senatorial candidate Madam Edith Gongloe-Weh accused the National Elections Commission of reportedly manipulating election results to favor her political rival, Rep. Jeremiah Koung.
In her allegation, Gongloe-Weh, who contested on the ticket of the opposition Collaborating Political Parties (CPP), explained that the vote tallying process was allegedly conducted in a fraudulent manner to deprive her from winning the race.
According to her, the current NEC results that place her rival ahead of her are unacceptable and unbelievable because she won districts, especially populated ones. “It is sad that they are trying to overturn the election results. There is no way that the votes from Districts 4 and 5 can overturn my victory, when I have already won the Lower Nimba belt, which comprises …
districts 6, 7, 8 and 9 and also two districts in the Upper Nimba belt,” Madam Gongloe – Weh laments.
Also in Maryland County, six candidates from the senatorial race including sitting Senator H. Dan Morias filed a complaint to the National Elections Commission, alleging the poll was marred by fraud.
Mr. Morias along with candidates Eric Wlea Giko of the Collaborating Political Party (CPP), John A. Ballout, an Independent Candidate; Dr. E. Wollor Topor, Rainbow Alliance; Richard Emmanuel Wilbert Yancy, Independent Candidate; and William Philip Anderson, Independent Candidate, are seeking redress to their claim of election fraud in Maryland.
Adding his voice to the allegation, the national chairperson of the opposition Liberia National Union has alarmed that the 8 December Special Senatorial Election was reportedly infiltrated by foreigners from neighboring Sierra Leone.
Mr. Blama, a former government official, said it is terribly wrong for foreigners to intrude in the electoral process of the country, adding that Liberians are the ones to decide their leaders, not foreigners. He calls on the government to promptly investigate the matter and make findings available to the public for timely actions to avoid a repeat of such ugly act.
Blama says that the party has sufficient evidence to substantiate its claim that seals of ballot boxes were allegedly broken and re-marked ballot papers stuffed.
By E. J. Nathaniel Daygbor–Edited by Winston W. Parley