By Lincoln G. Peters
The people of Lofa County are expected to begin voting in a senatorial by-election this morning of Tuesday, 28 June 2022, after legal and political battles delayed the process for over a year.
Lofa has been short of one Senator for a protracted period after former Defense Minister and Senator-elect Mr. Brownie Samukai was denied taking office on account of his conviction for corruption.
Each of Liberia’s 15 counties is represented by two Senators in the Legislature, along with a number of representatives based on the number of electoral districts in a county.
Mr. Samukai who could not take his seat in the Senate after winning the 2020 senatorial election in Lofa has been one of the top Unity Party officials, backed by their opposition allies, to campaign for Mr. Galakpai Kortimai in the by-election.
Ahead of today’s vote, National Elections Commission (NEC) chairperson Madam Davidetta Browne – Lansannah told local broadcaster OK FM Monday, 27 June that all materials needed for the conduct of the Lofa by-elections were in the county.
“And with that, I can say that we are ready and in high spirit for the conduct of the election today,” said Madam Brown – Lansannah.
“The temporary staff is also here in the county and the management team is also here. We have some conversation with all of the candidates and other stakeholders as to how to maintain the peace and integrity of the election body,’’ she added.
She also disclosed that the NEC has started deployment of its staff in every polling center in Lofa County and every other electoral material needed for the by-election has reached its destination in the county.
According to the National Elections Commission’s Facebook page, the Commission on 20 June 2022, officially received a joint resolution from the Legislature, ‘LEG-001/2022’ for the conduct of the Lofa County by-election.
The joint resolution was adopted by the Liberian Senate and the House of representatives, mandating the NEC to conduct the by-election on Tuesday, 28 June 2022.
However, it noted that President George Manneh Weah in his letter informed the NEC chairperson Madam Browne-Lansanah that his approval of the joint resolution is in accordance with Article 35 of the Constitution of Liberia.
The president also hoped that the NEC would work diligently towards the successful holding of the by-election.
Ahead of the 2023 presidential and legislative elections, the Lofa Senatorial by-election is a crucial one as the county is counted among some of the votes – rich counties.
The opposition and the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change have over the past time been busy rallying support for their choice of candidates there.
Liberia’s immediate past vice president and a son of Lofa County, Amb. Joseph Nyumah Boakai has been leading his Unity Party and its allies in the opposition community is rallying support for Kortimai.
On the other hand, Montserrado County Representative Thomas Fallah, a son of Lofa County, is also among the ruling party’s delegation rallying support for their candidate. –Edited by Winston W. Parley