Liberia: National Elections Commission Submits US$1.1 Million Budget for By-elections in Bomi, Bong & Grand Gedeh Counties

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Capitol Hill, Monrovia – The National Elections Commission (NEC) has informed lawmakers on Capitol Hill that it would cost the government US$1.1 million to conduct three by-elections in Bomi, Bong and Grand Gedeh Counties.

The NEC made the disclosure in two separate communications to the House of Representatives, following announcements by the House of vacancies in the three counties.

These vacancies came in the wake of the elections of then Representatives Edwin M. Snowe (District #1, Bomi County), Prince Moye (District #2, Bong) and Zoe Emmanuel Pennue (District #1, Grand Gedeh) as Senators for their respective counties in the December 8, 2020 Special Senatorial Elections.

In the communication, the NEC put the cost of the elections for Bomi County District #1 at US$340, 010.77, US$359, 162.27 for Grand Gedeh District #1 and US$400,000 for Bong County District #2.

The NEC’s communication is in compliance with Article 37 of the Constitution of Liberia which mandates the election body to conduct by-elections to fill the vacant seats created by death, resignation or expulsion no later than ninety-days as of the date of notification.

Article 37 of the Liberian Constitution states that “In the event of a vacancy in the Legislature caused by death, resignation, expulsion or otherwise, the presiding officer shall within 30 days notify the Elections Commission thereof. The Elections Commission shall not later than 90 days thereafter cause a by election to be held; provided that where such vacancy occurs within 90 days prior to the holding of general elections, the filling of the vacancy shall await the holding of such general elections.”

Meanwhile, one of the communications presenting the budget for Bomi and Grand Gedeh Counties were read in Plenary and forwarded to the Joint Committees on Elections, and Ways, Means and Finance to report within two weeks. The letter bearing the budget for Bong County arrived late on Thursday after the House had adjourned session, according to officials.

There were several members of the House of Representatives who contested for Senatorial seats in the just ended elections.

Of the huge number, only three have been certificated by the NEC as winners of their respective races, and they include Reps. Snowe, Moye and Pennue.

Others whose fate still remain hanging in the balance include Reps. Jeremiah Koon (District #1, Nimba), who is currently entangled in a prolonged election fraud case with fiercest rival Edith Gongloe-Weh, Alfred Koiwood (District 1, Gbarpolu County) also in a court case with another female candidate, Madam Botoe Kanneh and Nathaniel Bahway (District #1, Grand Kru County), also sweating the heat out with another election fraud lawsuit with rivals.

In line with the 90-day period mandated by the Constitution, it is no secrete that the NEC had hoped to receive communications for these vacant seats at the same time to conduct the by-elections at once in order to reduce the cost associated with the exercise. However, the delay in certification of the NEC’s declared winners owing to the plethora of election fraud and irregularities’ case will likely jeopardize the Election House’s plan.

Prior to the submission of the by-elections’ budgets, the Plenary voted unanimously to hold meeting with the NEC behind closed doors to discuss some of these conundrums that have ensued in the wake of the December 8, 2020 Special Senatorial Elections.

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