MONROVIA – G.W. Gibson High School in Monrovia witnessed firsthand electoral violence when riot police from the Liberia National Police (LNP) intervened in a serious confrontation between Representatives Acarus Moses Gray of the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) and newly elected Representative Prince Toles of District 8, Montserrado County.
According to information gathered by this paper upon arrival at the scene, the tension began when District 8 Representative Gray rushed to the center accompanied by able-bodied men. This was based on information he received that newly elected Representative Toles was instructing voters to display their voting cards before casting their votes, which reportedly angered Gray.
Another voter informed this paper that Representative-elect Toles was encouraging voters to vote for the Unity Party. “Prince Toles came here this morning and was telling people on the line to vote for JNB, so our people also called Rep. Gray to come and put a stop to him. When Rep. Gray came with his men, the two groups started fighting,” said a voter.
Other sources revealed that the entire drama unfolded when it was observed that people were voting multiple times at the center, with some disguising themselves as women. According to the source, this prompted Representative-elect Prince Toles to request the election workers to call out the names of those attempting to vote, a request that was reportedly denied by Gray and his supporters.
During the ensuing tension, riot police from the LNP were called in to restore order. However, both Representatives could not be reached on their mobile phones despite several attempts.
Simultaneously, former President of Nigeria Goodluck Jonathan arrived at the scene to address voters and emphasize the need for peaceful elections. This incident marked the first instance of physical violence during the ongoing election in Monrovia.
In a related development, voter turnout at the University of Liberia Campus, the Richard N. Nixon School, GW Gibson High School, and the polling center behind the Renault Garage remained low. Voters took their time to go to polling centers and cast their votes.
Varlayee Kamara, Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) Supervisor at the Richard Nixon School, cited the low turnout, attributing it to the reduced number of candidates compared to the October 10 elections when senators and representatives were included on the ballot papers.
“Many people have to go hustle while market women go to sell before coming to vote because maybe they feel this round, the polling places are not overcrowded,” he said.
Amos Zoegar of the Unity Party (UP) mentioned that voter turnout started strong but declined later in the morning. “I think many people are taking their time because they have to go run after their businesses and come later to vote,” he said.
Various voters provided different reasons for their actions. Rachel Cheeseman, who traveled from ELWA Junction in Paynesville, reluctantly walked to the University of Liberia (UL) polling place to vote, citing fatigue. Louise M. Williams, who lived around the University Campus, mentioned she went to bed late but came to vote as it was her chance to make her decision and vote for her leader.