Liberia: Polls Open With Low Turnout In Bomi By-election
TUBMANBURG — Polls have officially opened for the conduct of the heavily contested By-election in Senjeh district#1 in Bomi County.
Over 14,000 eligible voters are expected to cast their ballots for the candidates of their choice.
Poll workers commenced the exercise at various polling centers in Tubmanburg and other areas in a timely manner, while security officers from the Liberia National Police (LNP) and the Liberia Immigration Service (LIS) remain visible at various precincts.
Security sources have hinted that the numerical strength of officers from the National Joint Security has been beefed up following reports of alleged trucking of voters and the holding of two to three voting cards by some individuals.
Both international and local accredited observers were spotted monitoring the process.
Despite the commencement of normal polling activities, the cues at various polling centers appear almost empty as compare to previous by elections held in the district.
Polling workers claimed that the exercise is ongoing “slowly” despite the huge campaign activities and awareness which earlier characterized the entire process.
“The attendance is not encouraging as compare to the senatorial election. People are coming one, one. It almost one hour since we started now and only 12 persons have voted”, a poll worker who preferred not to be named stated.
Many voters normally stand in cues during the early morning hours to cast their ballots and go about their normal businesses during the afternoon hours, but this normal routine seems to be different in Senjeh.
“I am not even going to suffer myself to stand in line for anyone business. I going sell my market to find food for my children to eat”, an elderly woman stated while passing in front of a voting precinct in Tubmanburg.
She continued: “Since we been voting, what are the extra things they have done for us. The road from Bomi to Monrovia is still the same from rock of ages”.
On the other hand, marketers and others vowed to exercise their franchise during the late afternoon hours.
” I will go vote but I decided to come to do my business first because it is most important than voting. The voting only important for the people we going vote for. I never wanted to first because I know it will not benefit me. Even if I vote or not, I will still be frying kala; no improvement” Hawa Walcott stated.
The By-election in Senjeh district in Bomi is being held simultaneously along with three separate by elections taking place in Bong, Nimba, and Grand Gedeh Counties.
The by-elections were triggered following the ascendancies of four Representatives to the Liberian Senate during the December 8, 2020 senatorial election held in the country.
They include Senators Edwin Melvin Snowe (former Representative district # 1 Bomi), Prince Moye (former Representative Bong district # 2), Zoe Pennue (former Representative Grand Gedeh district # 1), and Jeremiah Koung (former Representative district # 1) respectively.
Nine candidates are contesting for the representative seat for electoral district # 1 in Bomi County.
They include: Armah Vanah Boakai (Independent ), Charles S. Brown of the Collaborating Political Parties (CPP), John D. Karmo of Liberian National Union (LINU), Finda Gborie Lansanah (independent), and Edwin Folley McGill (independent).
Others are: Harry Buster Sando, Sr (Independent), Roosevelt Arvin Tulay, Sr of People’s Unification Party (PUP), J. Kpakpa Obediah Varney of Liberia Restoration Party (LRP), She Maxwell Vincent of Liberian People’s Party (LPP).
The ruling Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) is not fielding a candidate in the Senjeh district By-election.
But President George Manneh Weah sometimes ago reportedly endorsed a request from his good friend, Senator Edwin Melvin Snowe to support his candidate-the lone female in the race.
The massive defeat of the CDC candidate during the December 8, 2020 senatorial by-election in Bomi, may be a cogent reason for the party to snub the process and observe from the spectator bench.
Senator Snowe massively flogged Alex Tyler, former Speaker of the House of Representatives 16, 476 or 53.97% of the total valid votes of 30,526 cast, to 8,834 votes.
Multiple suits were issued by Mr. Tyler, alleging that the entire election was married by fraud and irregularities, but evidences provided by his lawyers were not sufficient enough to overturn the outcome of the previous results announced in favor of Senator Snowe by the National Elections Commission (NEC).
In the wake of claims and counter claims over alleged votes buying and trucking of eligible voters, many citizens of Senjeh still see today’s by-election as a race between Snowe and Tyler.