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Tension brews in Gbarpolu

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-Ahead of Senate rerun

Tension is said to be brewing in Nomodatahum, District #3, a bordering town with Sierra Leone in Gbarpolu County ahead of a schedule rerun of the December 8, Senatorial election. Voting was postponed in the area on December 8, to today December 15, after some youths in the town stormed the voting center and took away ballot boxes on election day claiming that most of the people who had shown up to vote had crossed over from Sierra Leone.

Currently as per the National Elections Commission (NEC) provisional results, Madam BotoeKanneh, an independent candidate is topping the race by some 449 votes ahead of the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) candidate Alfred Gayflor Koiwood in the county’s senatorial election. A win in the town could seal her victory.

Reports of voters’ intimidation flared on Monday with many locals reporting the presence of a traditional (country) devil order in town by the Clan Chief, a diehard CDC supporter, which is preventing many people from accessing the town.

The legal team of Madam Botoe Kanneh of Sannoh& Partners filed a former complaint before the NEC chair Mrs. Davidetta Brown-Lasanah on Monday indicating that their client Madam Botoe Kanneh is running for her dear life as a result of attacks on her life and the lives of her supporters.

In the complaint signed by Cllr. Moiffie Kanneh, a relative of Madam Botoe Kanneh, conditions of two of his client’s supporters (Cllr. BoakaiKanneh, a brother and one Joseph) are in a state of danger. “The Clan Chief today instructed the Traditional Devil to enter the town of Nomodatahum, District #3 virtually terrorizing supporters of Madam Botoe,” he explained.

“With these negative development, the campaign committee of Madam Botoe lives are in imminent danger making it practically impossible to continue with her election activities,” Cllr. Kanneh concluded.
The situation is fluid at the moment with reports quoting some NEC officials of finding it difficult to access the town.

Earlier in an interview Monday Cllr. Kanneh, told this paper that his sister was under attack and that she and her entourage have been prevented from entering the town, while the ruling party candidate was there having meeting with town elders.

On Sunday reports of voters’ intimidations were also reported, with many accounts pointing to the huge deployment of state securities comprising officers of the Liberian National Police (LNP), Immigration personnel, agents of the National Security Agency (NSA) and officers of the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA).
The county is a must win county for the ruling establishment. It is the home of State Minister Nathaniel McGill. With the CDC losing to the opposition Collaborating Political Parties (CPP) in nearly all of the vote rich counties, the tiny Gbarpolu County could help give the CDC some hope.

“My Liberian people. I told you last week that cash violence is one of the major barriers to women representation in the Legislature. We have to fight against this menace that is keeping our mothers, daughters, sisters, wives and friends from running for office and winning. On Tuesday, 2021 voters in Nomodatonau (the town bordering Sierra Leone) will be voting to elect the county’s next Senator. The National Election Commission is conducting a rerun because a group of young men seized four ballot boxes because they claimed the people who voted were Sierra Leoneans, not Liberians.

Right now, Botoe Kanneh, a dried meat seller, is leading the race by 449 votes. She is very popular in the area because she does a lot of business there. The area is also predominantly women. It is her strong hold, so people will do anything to fight for a lion share of the 2021 votes. If you truly believe in women’s representation, please join the effort to protect Botoe’s voters. Join the fight to protect Mama Gbarpolu. Be on the right side of history,” wrote a female campaigner Maureen Sieh on her social media page.

Meanwhile, the Senatorial midterm election results are seen as a big blow to President George Weah’s ruling Congress for Democratic Change. The Elections Commission on Thursday announced preliminary results from eight counties.

Speaking at a press conference, NEC chairperson Davidetta Browne Lansanah, said “The Liberian people can be rest assured that the Commission will accurately announce the results of the election as expressed by the people through the ballot box.”

The special senatorial elections are seen as a test of support for Weah, a former football icon who has faced criticism as president over persisting economic problems.

The opposition is also leading in the country’s largest county, Montserrado, which is home to the capital Monrovia, as well as most of the voters in the nation The elections occurred alongside a referendum on reducing presidential terms and allowing dual nationality.

Former President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf in her twitter post congratulated NEC Chair Davidetta Browne-Lasanah and to President George Weah for respecting the will of the Liberian people in the just ended December 8 Senatorial By-Election.

-writes Othello B. Garblah

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