Liberia: UP Commits, with Caveat, to Accept Lofa Senatorial By-election Results

Former Vice President Joseph Nyumah Boakai and political leader of the Unity Party 

The former ruling Unity Party (UP) has promised to accept the Lofa County Senatorial by-election results once found credible and nothing less.

The UP position comes as the National Elections Commission (NEC) is set to announce the preliminary result today, two days after the election in a race that appears tight and too close to call.

Unofficial statements from the camps of Cllr. Joseph Jallah who is being supported by the ruling Coalition of Democratic Change (CDC) and of Galakpa Kortimai of the UP have both claimed victory, leading to serious tension in Lofa County. 

However, an official statement from the UP appears to have toned down the heat, calling for calm and pledging to accept the election results, provided that they are found to be credible. 

“The road has been challenging, but as a people, you stood up for democracy and your rights to vote and decide your representation; the Unity Party is grateful to have been part of that process,” the party said in a release on June 30.  “The UP calls on all its partisans to remain calm, and peaceful as we await the National Elections Commissions to announce the results. The Unity Party will accept the results once found credible; we urge all others to follow suit."

“Our profound appreciation goes out to the partisans and technical teams who are still working to ensure that the election was free and fair and the enfranchisement of the people of Lofa County is protected.”

However, some opposition supporters view the UP statement as a sign of weakness.  Responding to the UP release, ​Patrick Honnah, a senior strategist for the party, is not impressed. “As an analyst, this faint statement even before the preliminary results are announced suggests that your candidate lost,” he said in a Facebook post. “Who does that? No need to go on with this any further. Congrats Jallah. Let's move to the next stage.”

The UP position comes as Lofa District #1 Representative, Francis Nyumalin, a party hardliner, claimed that in the wake of the ballot counting process, they have noticed with utmost dismay a “ploy by the corrupt President George Weah administration to rob his people of their choice in the senatorial by-election conducted on June 28.”

“Due to the massive failure of this administration and its gross ineptitude to execute the mandate entrusted to them by the people of Liberia, we believe the CDC-led government views this Senatorial by-election in Lofa as their last hope to hang on to power,” Nyumalin said in a statement on June 29.

“In so doing, they will attempt, as is already evident by the malicious falsehood being spread all over social media and other media outlets, to do anything within their corrupt scope of thinking to cheat and rob the people of Lofa of their constitutional franchise again.”

Nyumalin added that based on the results gathered and unquestionable empirical data, approximately 81 percent of the total votes cast have been counted; and at this point, it is crystal clear that the UP candidate Kortimai, is in a comfortable lead with more than over 20,000 votes while the governing CDC candidate, Cllr. Jallah is trailing behind with about 15,000, a difference of 5,000.

He added that with the remaining uncounted votes, common sense dictates that no matter what the results of those votes may be, the winner of this senatorial by-election is the Unity Party candidate.

“Therefore, let me state categorically that the Unity Party and the people of Lofa County, will not accept any fraudulent results intended to satisfy nor please Weah and his corrupt regime.”

But Nyumalin's colleague, Montserrado County District #5 Rep. Thomas  Fallah of the CDC, has accused the UP of being unwilling to tell their followers the truth — “that this election is lost.” Fallah added that the fantasy narrative is far from reality and has created an impression among UP supporters that they have won the election --  which could incite violence in the county.

He noted that the situation is unfortunate but more frustrating that these claims are being embraced by a sizeable minority of voters and public officials – many of whom know better.

“You place the interests of our county above everything else. Your decision to break with tradition and embrace change is a powerful statement of hope, faith, and courage,” Fallah said. “As I’ve always said, this election is not about any one person, it’s about the future of our county. As you did with your votes, let’s continue to place the interests of our county above everything else."

“On election night, the votes were counted and supervisors at polling places received tally sheets. By early morning, candidates were aware of the final results from their respective field teams. But the Unity Party and its propaganda have been unwilling to tell their followers the truth — that this election is lost.” 

“Right now, the leaders of the Unity Party have a choice to make. They can continue stoking fear and division. Or they can embrace the truth and extinguish the gaze of division and hate. My hope is that, for the sake of preserving our peace and democracy, my colleagues in the Unity Party will embrace truth over propaganda because we know that the people of Lofa will not be intimidated by lies and propaganda.”

Apart from the two candidates, the rest including two sitting lawmakers — Mariama Fofana and George Semah — have conceded defeat and pledged to accept the results.