Preliminary results reaching the Daily Observer Nimba Desk from across Nimba County Put Rep. Jeremiah Koung and Madam Edith Gongloe Weh neck and neck in the lead early vote count, with incumbent Senator Thomas S. Grupee taking the least.
Mrs. Gongloe-Weh is leading most of the polling places in and around Ganta, as well as some quarters of Sanniquellie, the home village of Adolphus Dolo. But along the Ivorian belt, Rep. Koung is said to be sharp lead over Madam Gongloe-Weh, with Garrison Yealue and Taa Wongbe coming third and fourth in the count so far.
The first result of Nimba County District #8, Gongloe-Weh is said to also be leading over Koung, but it may be too early for one to claim victory, because the counting process is said to be slow and, due to communication network challenges, the result is hard to be obtained.
In Saclepea, she is said to be leading, followed by Jeremiah Koung, while in Tappita District, Wongbe and Koung are neck and neck. Gongloe-Weh is also said to be dominating the vote in Yarwin Mesonnon.
In 2011, Gongloe-Weh dominated the vote counts around the same belt, but lost to Grupee around the Gbehlay belt, making her lose greatly to Grupee.
This year’s election is being monitored with eagle eyes, where all the candidates have their observers at the polling places. At the close of the voting today, some officials of the CPP were seen deployed at some of the polling places to ensure that the counting is not tampered with or manipulated.
The atmosphere of the election was every calm or peaceful, but the voting started late in most of the places, especially the Foundation Academic, which started at about noon, due to the slowness in the deployment of materials and staff.
Earlier, Ganta City Mayor, Amos Suah, called on the National Election Commission (NEC) supervisor to allot additional time to allow everybody to vote, but the request was not adhered to at last.
Some of the problems that mostly affected the conduct of the election were logistical, where there were not enough vehicles to fast track the deployment, according to the Election Supervisor in Ganta.
There was some bickering at the some polling places, when the citizens saw empty boxes being loaded with bike to other centers.
The election supervisor in Ganta, identified as Yei, told reporters that Ganta was given one vehicle for deployment of materials to 12 precincts and they were forced to hire a motorcycle to help ease the tension. A heavy downpour of rain also brought another setback to the voting process.
The process of transporting some of the materials via motorbike created tension among the voters at the YMCA Polling Center, who accused the poll workers of cheating, trying to manipulate the results by taking boxes to unknown places.
In response, the Election Supervisor said the number of boxes brought to the YMCA included the boxes in Foundation Academic Center, because the only car assigned in Ganta has gone to deliver items to centers, the magistrate asked them to hire a bike to take the remaining materials to the Foundation Academic Center.
In same development, tension is said to be brewing at the Child Friendly School Campus, where an opened box filled with the ballot materials was brought at a time when voting was already underway.
The voters raised concern as to why the ballot box should be brought opened which, according to them, suggested malpractice. Some demanded to have the box burnt publicly.
But, one of the poll workers, who did not want to be named, said the center is supposed to serve about 1,200 voters, but the materials distributed among the five centers in the precinct were not enough, so they called on the Election Supervisor to bring additional materials, which were brought in the opened box.
“Because the materials were in an opened box we decided to leave it with the security outside, until the one we were using finished; then the five presiding officers in the precinct would come together and have these ballot papers divided,” she said.
At the time of this reporter visit, the box was still outside with security and surrounded by angry voters. Efforts to get the Upper Nimba Magistrate, Glador Flomo, did not materialize as his phone was either switched off or out of coverage area.
But, at last the ballot papers were taken to the police station, where it was checked, and was discovered that none of the ballot papers were marked, so the police turned the materials over to the poll workers.
The result of this election will, among other things, determine whether Senator Prince Y. Johnson still has a ‘godfather’ grip over Nimba. Many voters want the scene to be changed around this time. “We are tired of hearing, ‘Carry this person,’ so, this time, we will decide for ourselves,” said and elderly man.