THE MOST FAMOUS photograph of football legend George Weah’s political career, without a doubt has to be one from the 2005 presidential elections. Holding up ballots from the run-off elections which he lost to Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, Weah made his voice clear, as he spewed allegations that the November 8, 2005 runoff was bogus – that he was cheated of victory.
SIX YEARS LATER following the first round of the 2011 presidential elections, Mr. Weah and his Congress for Democratic Change, once again challenged the elections results and rejected participation in the second round of voting.
THE END RESULT, a fatal riot on November 7, 2011 which led to the death of at least one person after gunshots were reportedly fired during a protest by his supporters in Monrovia ahead of Liberia's presidential run-off. The rioting broke out after thousands of CDC supporters gathered outside party headquarters to urge voters to boycott Tuesday's poll.
SIX YEARS LATER, ahead of this year’s presidential and general elections, echoes of cheating allegations are surfacing again, only this time it is in the corridors of Mr. Weah’s own party.
IN THE AFTERMATH of primary elections held last Friday, several candidates and constituents in districts in Montserrado County expressed frustrations over the manner and circumstances under which the process was conducted.
ONE OF THOSE feeling particularly hurt was Paulita Cece Wie, an aspirant for the District No. 9 primary and one of the key challengers to incumbent Munah Pelham.
CECE ALLEGED that blue ink was used to vote without the papers being folded. “We saw black ink and folded papers. Our national and international observers were not opportune to enter the office were the votes were being cast. Serious concerns and this is unacceptable! Fool some of the people and not all of the people.”
THE ASPIRANT’S CLAIM was further boosted by Larry Rogers Tugbeh, who explained that the numbers simply did not add up.
SAID TUGBEH: “When it comes to aspirants, we had Honorable Pelham, we had Hannah Yates, and Paulita C. C. Wie. These three aspirants should have had their delegates seated inside where the ballots were being cast but it was only left with our brother and our youth chair Mr. Jefferson Koijee. There were no delegates was set up when it comes to the three aspirants. So, we went as far as the ballot boxes and the 44 cast their votes. To our utmost surprise we saw 45 delegates were announced. One of our sisters who was supposed to be one of the delegates was absent because she was sick. But her name was pronounced and someone had cast the ballot for her. So, where are we today?”
TUGBEH says he is giving the party an ultimatum to right the wrongs it meted out against several grieving aspirants across the county. “We need a speedy, speedy, at least speedy intervention into this process because if not so, we the zonal heads of the thirty District of No. 9 will definitely declare our intentions by informing our hierarchy in the CDC or the coalition that we will resign from the political party of the CDC because we are responsible. We took the lead and went into the process. But as much in making a pronouncement in which that pronouncement is not conducive, we will not accept it.”
FOR WHAT ITS WORTH, we feel strongly and condemn any attempts by the Coalition for Democratic Change to sweep this matter under the carpet.
CLAIMS FROM BOTH Ms. Wie and Mr. Tugbeh warrants attention, particular after audio recordings surfaced Monday indicating that Mr. James Fokpah, a member of the steering committee of the CDC primary process attempted to solicit money from Ms. Wie in a bid to alter the outcome of the primary results.
WE ARE FURTHER TAKEN aback by the process chairman, Mr. Jefferson Koijee, also the youth leader of the party, who expressed dismay to Ms. Wie for simply voicing out her angst over being cheated in the electoral process.
SAID MR. KOIJEE: “We are particularly dismayed about the conduct of Partisans Paulita Cece Wei and Sabah Jomah, who have allowed their emotional attachment to the quest for a representative post to cloud their judgment, making them tools in the hands of detractors who have never given the Liberian people any process with half the level of transparency that ours demonstrated.”
- KOIJEE SAYS he was particularly angry with the actions of Ms. Wie and others protesting the results whom he accuses of showing complete disregard of the institutional precedents, primary guidelines and the party’s constitution.
WE REMIND Mr. Koijee that the CDC in particular, has a history of protesting election results in this country, on one or two occasions, resulting to violence.
WHAT MS. WIE and others are doing must be commended. They are displaying their outrage over what they believe was a tainted process, especially the voice recording on which Mr. Fokpah is heard asking Wie for US$200 dollars in a bid to help her win the District No. 9 primary.
WE ARE BAFFLED over how the tide has turned so suddenly for the CDC and Mr. Koijee, that they are now questioning the audacity of a genuine possible electoral fraud allegation.
- KOIJEE’S assertion that he “finds a few individuals questioning the integrity of the process only because they did not win, completely unacceptable in a fledgling democracy like ours,” a bit disturbing.
THANKS TO HISTORY, it is fair to say that it would be unfair for Mr. Koijee and his steering committee to bite the hand that has been feeding them the rhetoric of election violence.
THEY MUST INSTEAD be applauding those protesting amid allegations of fraud, for the bold manner in which they are exercising the same fundamental rights the CDC has been advocating and implementing for years under the mantra of a grassroots persona.