The planned re-run of the December 20, 2014 midterm Senatorial by election in Electoral District #7, Bong County failed to kick off as scheduled on Tuesday September 29, amidst intense political lobbying-this paper has learnt.
“Some arrangements are being made, the previous timetable will not hold,” a source in the corridors of the National Elections Commission or NEC told this paper Tuesday, as officials remained tight-lip due to the politics and legal ramifications surrounding the re-run.
This is the first time that the Supreme Court has order a re-run in certain precincts within an electoral district over election disputes. “There are other discussions going on,” the source continued, “There are other factors involve-the Supreme Court ruling and you know this is the first time for the Court to hand down such ruling.”
The source said negotiations were ongoing at all fronts and that the NEC would only come up with an official statement on while the re-run was not held as scheduled as well as if there will be any new date to be announced. But whatever the final outcome is, the election house would make that public, our source concluded.
The re-run, which involves the wife of jailed ex-President Charles Taylor-Sen. Jewel Howard Taylor as a key factor and others, was scheduled to take place on Tuesday following a Supreme Court ruling in the second quarter of this year.
The Court ordered a re-run of the senatorial election at Sanoyea Market, Yarbayeh Public School and Bletenda Palava Hut, all in Electoral District #7 in lower Bong County. The high court’s decision was based upon a complaint filed by the second place winner in the December 20, 2014 election, Dr. Henrique Tokpa, that the results from the three disputed areas were not credible and that procedural election irregularities led to his defeat.
But days after the court order, Dr. Tokpa whose petition threatened the legitimacy of Sen. Taylor’s position at the Senate backed off from the re-run, saying his decision not to participate is as a result of feed backs from consultations and advices from his supporters and national stakeholders.
But NEC reacting to his withdrawal said at the time that until the court issues a contrary mandate, it will proceed with the re-run as ordered. The court is yet to issue any such decision contrary to its own mandate.
The court decision for a re-run pushed embattled Sen. Taylor to intensify her lobby on every side, with women amongst them Sen. Geraldine Doe Sheriff of Montserrado County condemning the court’s order for a re-run.
The special senatorial elections as stated earlier were held last December and it’s approximately nine months after, and several petitions on election irregularities were filed before the Supreme Court.
Over six petitions were filed, but up to date the court has ruled on three, waiting to give its opinion on the rest. Dr.Tokpa had 11,737 votes, which amounted to 30.2%, while Senator Taylor received 13,672 votes, amounting to 35.2% thus declaring her the winner.
Sen. Taylor along with Sen. Prince Johnson of Nimba County were the only two senators to have retained their seats during the by election among 15. 13 others including the former Senate Pro-tempore Gberzongar Finley lost their seats.
In a related development, our source said the NEC is yet to received a formal communication from the House of Representative informing it of the death of Lofa County District #2 Rep Fofi Sahr Baimba.
Rep Baima died on Sunday September 13, at the John F. Kennedy Memorial Hospital in Monrovia. A formal communication to the Election House would enable to start preparation for a by election in Lofa, District #2. -Written by Othello B. Garblah