Liberia: Defeated Ruling Party Candidates Dissatisfied over Results Released By The National Elections Commission; Complain to Magistrates in Their Respective Counties
MONROVIA – In the wake of vast majority of candidates from the governing Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC), other political parties and independent candidates conceding defeat in the just ended senatorial election across Liberia, few other candidates remain defiant to congratulate their arch-rivals, threatening to institute legal actions against the National Elections Commission (NEC) over the conduct of the process.
Thousands of eligible voters went to the polls on Tuesday, December 8, to elect their Senators, and Representatives in the by-elections in Montserrado and Sinoe Counties respectively, as well as to participate in a National Referendum.
The defiant CDC candidates and an independent candidate are claiming that the voting processes which led to the victories of their political opponents, most of whom are from the opposition Collaborating Political Parties (CPP), were marred with irregularities and flaws.
Those that are yet to concede to defeat in their respective counties despite the results announced show that their political opponents have won include: incumbent Grand Cape Mount County Senator, Victor Watson, former House Speaker Alex Tyler of Bomi County and Steve Tequah of Rivercess County, among others.
Senator Watson lost the election to the candidate of the CPP, Mr. Simeon Taylor, who he previously defeated during the by-election in 2019.
The by-election at the time was triggered following the death Senator Edward Dagoseh.
In a statement posted on his official Facebook page on Tuesday, December 15, Senator Watson stated that though he remains a strong supporter of democracy, in Gola Konneh and other parts of district # one in Grand Cape Mount, “individuals were allowed to vote two to four times impacting the integrity of the people’s decision”.
He claimed that as a result of the situation, he has filed a legal action against the process.
“Our evidences show that those who voted two to four times put our rival to over 50% of the votes in District one. That’s not the case for District two and three. Anyone who has followed Grand Cape Mount County election will know that it was the most competitive for the 2020 senatorial election. But the Constitution and the electoral laws are clear on votes irregularities. That’s why we have spoken to our team of lawyers and based on cogent evidence available and advice, we have mandated them filed an affidavit claiming statistical irregularities and electoral fraud”.
According to him, the “statistical anomalies can suggest that an audit of such fraud must be reviewed, votes recount mandated”, adding that, “there are absolutely enough “irregularities which prove massive voter fraud”.
“We’ve witnessed illegal counting procedures, violation of voting rules, harassment and intimidation of our poll workers. These irregularities and anomalies, statistical evidence are available, as a testament to that our representatives were intimidated and didn’t sign the record of count.
This election is an assault on our democratic values”.
Senator Watson, however, called on all his supporters to remain calm and peaceful, even in the face of provocation until such time when the case shall have been decided.
In Bomi County, the former Speaker of the House of Representatives and the candidate of the governing CDC, was defeated by Representative Edwin Melvin Snowe 16,476 votes or 54% to 8,834 or 28.9% of the total valid votes cast.
Senator-elect Snowe has been congratulated by nearly all of the four defeated candidates, excluding Tyler and Bomi County incumbent Senator, Sando Dazoe Johnson.
Tyler has complained that the process was fraudulent.
In a brief telephone chat with FrontPage Africa on Tuesday, the Assistant Magistrate of the National Elections Commission (NEC) in Bomi County, Boakai Johnson, confirmed that Tyler has officially filed a complaint against the process.
“Mr. Tyler filed a complaint to our office and the hearing has been scheduled for this Thursday”.
In Rivercess County, former Superintendent Wellington Geevon Smith was declared the winner of the senatorial election over his closest rival, Steve Tequah.
He accumulated 3,284 votes, while Tequah got 3,168 votes.
Prior to the commencement of political campaign activities, Tequah was being covertly supported by the Managing Director of the National Port Authority (NPA), Bill Tweahway, over the ruling party’s candidate, incumbent Senator Dallas G. V. Gueh.
Tweahway launched a frequent visitation campaign in the county on grounds that he wants citizens of the county to work along with him to ensure the implementation of sustainable development projects.
He later commenced the installation of solar lights from Timbo River Bridge to Yarpah Town and other areas in Rivercess, along with Tequah.
During the exercise, Mr. Tequah, who was previously supporting Senator Gueh, later won the full support of Tweahway.
On December 11, Tequah filed a complaint against the conduct of the senatorial election in Rivercess.
In his two-page complaint, Tequah alleged that the senatorial election in Rivercess was characterized by “electoral irregularities and violence penetrated by the National Elections Commission and independent candidate Wellington Geevon Smith”.
According to him, over 800 valid votes in his favor were declared invalid by NEC’s Presiding Officers, while “scratches were on the ballot sheets and violence was unleashed on his representatives at the Tally Center by supporters of independent candidate Wellington Geevon Smith”.
Tequah requested the commission to recount all 111 polling places in the county.
But in its ruling dated December 15, 2020, signed by David A. Logan Assigned Elections Magistrate of Rivercess County, a copy which is in the possession of FrontPage Africa, the commission ruled that the allegations raised by Tequah lack “sufficiency of facts in proving election irregularities and violence as labeled against the National Elections Commission (NEC) and independent candidate Wellington Geevon Smith”.
“The complainant’s complaint lacks legal basis for a recount as pray for. Wherefore, and in view of the above findings stated, Hearing hereby dismissed the complaint and denied Complainant’s pray for recount”.
The latest decisions taken by candidates of the ruling party and independent candidate to stage a compliant or threaten legal action against the conduct of the senatorial election, run contrary to latest pronouncement made by President George Manneh Weah.
Days after the conduct of the senatorial election, the Liberian Chief Executive called on everyone to accept the outcome of the elections.
“These elections represent a major victory for democracy in Liberia, and have significantly enhanced our democratic credentials and affirmed our support for the rule of law in our country. Liberia, as a Nation, and we, as a People, are the ultimate winners and beneficiaries of this peaceful exercise. I therefore urge that everyone should accept the results that will finally be announced, and let us join hands together to move our country forward in peace and upward in prosperity”, President Weah stated.
Scores of other defeated candidates who participated in the just ended senatorial election, including Representative Thomas Fallah, Gbenzongar Findely, Henry Yallah, Armah Zolu Jallah, among others have already conceded to defeat, clearing the way for the certification and subsequent inauguration of their successors or victors during the second working Monday in January 2021.
But with the filing of complaints and threats of instituting lawsuits by few candidates of the ruling party and an independent candidate in Bomi, Grand Cape Mount, and Rivercess counties, among others, it remains uncertain whether or not the senators-elect will take their respective seats in a timely manner, or will have to wait for the Supreme Court of Liberia to make a determination when these electoral cases are reported at the High Court.