Liberia: Geevon Smith Wins Rivercess Vote After Second Recount, County Result Shows
RIVERCESS COUNTY — Independent Candidate Wellington Geevon Smith has won the controversial Rivercess County Senatorial election after the county’s second recount, results of the county election magistrate showed on Saturday, rejecting false claims of fraud in the race.
County election officials completed their recount ordered by the National Elections Commission and sanctioned by Supreme Court after a legal challenge by candidate Wellington Geevon Smith.
The recount shows independent candidate Geevon Smith winning with 3332 votes –which represent 23.35% compare to his main challenger-Steve Tequah 3289 votes, 23.05%. This means the two candidates an apart with just 43 votes.
CPP candidate Gabriel Smith gained additional valid votes totaling (2113, 14.81%) in the recount but felt short of pushing former Senator Dallas Gueh (2174, 15.24) who was candidate of the governing CDC from third to fourth place– down perking order.
Saturday’s recount of votes from all polling station in Rivercess, the second recount terming from a series of vote dispute challenges mounted by candidate Steve Tequah concluded on Sunday afternoon in Cestos City suggesting minor irregularities with vote count, but no evidence of widespread fraud, as alleged by Mr. Tequah and team.
“To reach this far, it wasn’t easy” said Mr Geevon Smith whose supporters for nearly an hour paraded the streets of Cestos City with jubilation.
Mr Smith told a local radio the processes of challenge to the outcome of the December election had come to an end and that “it is time for all of us to remain calm and focus on our county development”
Geevon, a Journalist, former Assistant Minister and Superintendent of Rivercess County under Ellen Sirleaf administration emphasized the difficulties he had faced with the prolonged election dispute litigation, telling the Development Communication Network radio that as winner, it was his obligation “to reach out to all parties, reconcile and unite the people for the sake of our county”
The result deals a fatal blow to Steve Tequah reported campaign funder– National Port Authority Managing Director Bill Twehway whom sources suggest had promised “to deliver Rivercess County” to President Weah and his Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC).
Managing Director Bill Twehway has been at the center of controversies surrounding repeated vote challenges and two requests in succession for recount in the underdeveloped county.
As many grew frustrated public comments that Mr Twehway who hails from Rivercess County funded and was the hidden hand that pushed candidate Steve Tequah to repeatedly delay the Rivercess result. Have never seized to exist.
Senator J. Milton Teahjay in Plenary of the Liberia Senate made a startling revelation that the National Port Authority (NPA) headed by Mr. Bill Twehway had committed to pay US$40,000 to the National Elections Commission for the purpose of recounting ballots in the county. The NPA managing director has however denied any wrong doing.
The communications director at NPA, Mr. Malcolm Scott, denied the claim by the Senator from Sinoe County, saying it was a “devilish lie”.
On Wednesday, February 24, the Supreme Court mandated the NEC to conduct a re-count of the 104 of the 111 polling places, as initially authorized by the Board of Commissions of the (NEC). The Court said its decision was to ensure fairness and transparency in the voting process after Smith’s closest rival, Steve Tequah, requested recount of the ballots cast in 104 polling places in the county.
By then, the NEC declared that Smith accumulated 3,284 votes, while Tequah collected 3,168 votes.
Not satisfied with the result, requested that the commission conduct a re-count in seven of the 111 polling places in the county. According to him, he had obtained 80 votes (35.7%) of 228 votes from the seven polling places that the electoral magistrate in Rivercess had earlier declared to be invalid after recounting those areas.
Although the re-count kept Smith in the lead, the initial recount increased Tequah’s tally in the seven polling places, narrowing the margin between the two candidates.
This, Mr. Tequah said compelled him to demand a recount of votes from the remaining 104 polling places.