Liberia: Gbotoe Kanneh Finally Certificated, Pays Tribute To Women Of Liberia For Support

Monrovia – The National Elections Commission on Tuesday certificated Senator-elect Gbotoe Kanneh as winner of the December 8th 2020 election in Gbapolu County.

Kanneh’s certification comes days after the Supreme Court mandated the NEC to do so.

Madam Kanneh was certificated along with Mr. Willington Geevon Smith of River-Cess County both of whom have had a rough road to the senate.

Branding herself as “the Jesus of all grassroot women” of Liberia, who have carried the cross and paid the cost in pursuit of joining the national legislature, Madam Kanneh declared: “I have to bear the cross for women of Liberia; we should not be afraid to venture into politics. Imagine the country devil beating my supporters. For a grassrooter to become a senator, it’s not easy. I have served as your Jesus; don’t be afraid, just be focused.”

Surrounded by her supporters, the senator-elect emerged from the Chambers of the Senate where she had just submitted her credential to the secretary of the Senate in jubilant mood.

The crowd of predominantly women, graced her certification at the Legislature and the headquarters of the National Elections Commission.

The Senator-elect paid special tribute to the women of Liberia who she said have stood by her side through the rough roads.

In the Supreme Court ruling, Justices of the Court labeled the continued failure of the Ministry of Justice to prosecute election offenders accordingly, as a threat to the country’s peace and existence. The Court opined that action by the Ministry of Justice led by Cllr. Musa Dean to downplay cases of electoral violence predicts a grim future for Liberia’s democracy and its people.

“We fear that if election violence is not handled decisively now, future elections in our country will be disaster-prone,” the Court’s five Justices wrote in a unanimous ruling relating to the Gbarpolu County electoral dispute case between Senator-elect Botoe Kanneh (appellant), Coalition for Democratic Change (1st appellee) and the National Elections Commission (2nd appellee).

Performing the certification ceremony Tuesday, the Chairperson of NEC, Davidetta Browne Lansanah assured Liberians of the commitment and Constitutional mandate to conduct free, fair, credible and transparent elections throughout the Country.

The Chairperson of NEC reminded all Liberians that election is everybody’s business and it was therefore binding on all Liberians to ensure a peaceful election at all times. The NEC Boss wants all Liberians, including the Elections Commission to commit themselves to the rule of law as the surest way to sustaining our peace and democracy in Liberia. 

The Court furthered that those given the authority of investigating elections offenses must give such action their due attention and must prosecute election offenders accordingly, “as failure to curb such excesses predicts a grim future for a democratic society where the people must choose their public leaders.”

It added that the Ministry of Justice has not made any pronouncement regarding the violence that allegedly took place in Gbarpolu and those suspected of instigating said violence.

Case History

The case which emanated from the conduct of the December 8, 2020 Special Senatorial Elections in Gbarpolu County, in which the 1st appellee, CDC, alleged that then independent candidate, Botoe Kanneh, violated the elections laws of Liberia by engaging in violent act, which violates Chapter 10, Section 10.6 of the Elections Law of Liberia. As such, CDC asked the electoral body to mete sanctions against her in keeping with the laws.

However, after the CDC filed its complaint before the Gbarpolu County Magistrate on December 21, 2020, it later filed several papers before the NEC Board of Commissioners, complaining of the magistrate’s inaction in assigning the complaint for hearing, and prayed for change of venue, among other things.

But the NEC Board of Commissioners, in a ruling on January 6, 2021, labelled “Interlocutory Ruling,” denied CDC’s application for change of venue on ground that they could only hear the matter after the trial/investigative tribunal had made a decision. The Board also informed the 1st appellee (CDC) that it did not cite any controlling law that requires the election to be stayed pending the outcome of its allegation of criminality against Botoe Kanneh.

Unsatisfied with such a ruling, CDC ran to Supreme Court and filed a petition for a writ of prohibition before the Justice in Chambers, requesting the Justice to issue a stay order to restrain and prohibit the NEC from conducting the rescheduled election in Nomodatanau, Gbarpolu County.

In the writ, which was granted by the Justice in Chambers, CDC argued that it motion for change of venue, summary proceeding and NEC’s decision to conduct the election without looking into their complaints was ultra vires, illegal and a path pursued by wrong rules.

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