By: Eldred Wlemongar Thomas*
The National Elections Commission (NEC), candidates and other election stakeholders have reached a decision to conduct a re-run of the senatorial election in three contested polling places in Grand Kru County.
The re-run is expected to take place in electoral districts number one and two, at Belloken Town Hall, Wakpo Public School and Boluwein Town Hall in Grand Kru County respectively.
A total of Nine Hundred and Sixty registered voters are expected to vote in the mentioned precincts and three polling places with code numbers 18050, 18024 and 18029.
The decision to rerun the December 8 Senatorial Mid Term election in Grand Kru comes after weeks of consultations with Senatorial candidates, political parties representatives, observers and civil actors on whether to conduct a rerun of the process or recount after it was disrupted due to complaints of reported electoral fraud, violence and disputes.
Supporters’ loyal Senatorial candidates had staged a protest during counting and release of preliminary results of the December 8 Senatorial Mid Term election damaging properties including vehicles belonging to the National Election Commission and the Liberia National Police while several persons sustained injuries.
This claimed the attention of National Election Commission Central office in Monrovia after which the process was brought to a halt for some weeks.
The angry supporters had threatened to burn the NEC local office and vowed to carry out series actions if the election results did not favor their respective candidates.
The preliminary results pronounced on December 12, 2020 placed Rep. Nathaniel N. Bahway in the lead with 3561 votes accounting for 22.22%, followed by Numene T. H. Bartekwa 3535 votes 22.06%, and incumbent Senator Peter Sonpon Coleman 3260 votes 20.34%.
The results released indicated that 111 of 113 polling places (98.23%) have been counted or tallied; thus intensifying tension in the county with many claiming fraud in the entire process.
Supporters mainly from the political camps of Candidates Nathaniel N Bahway Sr. and Numene T. H. Bartekwa had accused NEC of fraudulent acts, alleging that it increased the votes cast at the Wakpo Public School, Polling Place 01 in favor of CDC’S candidate Coleman thus fueling tension in the county.
Accordingly candidate Peter Sonpon Coleman obtained 41 votes, but the number was allegedly changed to 241 by the presiding officer who is believed to be a relative to Senator Coleman’s Chief of Office Staff.
Liberia National Union of district one Representative Nathaniel Zoe Barway had also threatened to resist any decision and election results from NEC were the body to carry out recount, instead of rerun it was opting for.
Grand Kru newly assigned Election Magistrate Solomon Jaryenneh had also confirmed that the ballot boxes were tempered with, adding that the act was committed by unknown individuals.
Magistrate Jaryenneh indicated that during the tallying process, the Commission also observed similar problem with ballot boxes from Beloken Town Hall, and Boluwein Town Hall.
This prompted the National Election Commission dispatch a team of investigators to the county and based on their findings, the election body recently held a meeting with stakeholders, including candidates and or their representatives resulting to the decision of a re-run in the three contested polling areas in Grand Kru.
NEC has meanwhile assured citizens of its preparedness to fully conduct the re-run in a free fair and transparent manner with a new team of electoral technicians.