Amid allegations of ‘results fixing’, most members of NEC Board of Commissioners disinclined to “cooperate”
The announcement by NEC chairman Jerome Korkoya of latest vote count results last evening have declared Abraham Darius Dillon undisputed winner of the Montserrado County by-elections and placed Telia Urey back in the driver’s seat ahead of her main rival Abu Kamara of the CDC led by President George Weah. But this latest announcement was preceded by undue delay in announcing the results which prompted widespread speculation that plans were afoot to rig the elections results.
It is unprecedented in recent electoral history where the counting and tallying of votes for a single county and district have taken so long such that public suspicions had heightened about possible vote tampering by officials of the NEC and all the signs appeared to have been pointing to the head of the NEC data center, Floyd Sayon, who according to supporters of Telia Urey, allowed the manipulation of the records, in order to give one candidate, the CDC candidate, Abu Kamara an edge over his female rival.
Ms. Urey had filed a complaint before NEC raising concerns about the divergence in what was tallied and recorded at the various polling centers by party representatives and that reported by NEC chairman Korkoya. According to Ms. Urey who spoke to the Observer in a telephone interview, she had observed discrepancies in the figures posted by NEC, as opposed to what was recorded at the various polling centers by her representatives as well as by NEC staff.
As customary, at the end of the tallying exercise at each polling center each party representative was required to sign on to the tally sheets, copies of which were given to the party representatives while the original copy went to NEC. In its announcement of preliminary results, NEC Chairman Korkoya announced a round figure which he claimed to be actual vote results.
The results presented by Chairman Korkoya were however not disaggregated as should have been on a per polling center basis according to former NEC chairman James Fromayan who spoke to this newspaper. Moreover, the use of the “Addendum Roll”, declared illegal by the Supreme Court in 2017 has heightened suspicions of foul play.
For this reason, amongst others highlighted by Ms. Urey and others, an official complaint was lodged with NEC. And, in respect thereof, NEC had ordered a quarantine of the ballots from the 3 centers where fraud was suspected to have been committed.
Meanwhile it was reliably learnt that NEC Chairman Korkoya, facing relentless pressure from above, was mulling a rerun of the election in view of the embarrassment caused by NEC’s failure to produce the tally sheets for scrutiny when demanded by Ms. Urey. Insider sources say Korkoya had come under relentless pressure from above to “fix the results” apparently in order to save President Weah’s from deep embarrassment in view of his recent rants swearing that the Ureys will never win elections in Liberia as long as he is President.
Six phone calls placed to NEC information officer Prince Dunbar by the Daily Observer between 11:44 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. to provide clarity went unanswered and so did a text message sent to him at 1:20 p.m. Insider sources also say that despite enormous pressure that had been brought to bear on Chairman Korkoya to “fix” the District 15 results, most members of the NEC Board of Commissioners had appeared disinclined to “cooperate”.
Further adding to NEC’s woes, according to NEC insider sources, is the photograph of the “Addendum Roll” used by NEC staff during the polls. The photograph which was captured during the polls provides compelling evidence that NEC staff did indeed resort to the use of the “Addendum Roll” which was declared illegal by the Supreme Court during the 2017 elections. The question which therefore arises is who authorized the use of the “Addendum Rolls” during the just concluded by-elections when those Rolls had been declared fraudulent by the Supreme Court during the 2017 elections?
This and other questions about suspected fraud, though relevant, may now fade into the background given Ms Urey’s somersault back into the driver’s seat; however, sources (names withheld) close to Ms. Urey indicate that she appears more likely than not to pursue her claims of fraud to its logical extent.
Already, according to insider NEC sources, Ms. Urey on Friday turned up at the NEC head offices in response to what she may have mistakenly believed was a citation to appear for hearing into her complaint but was instead told her hearing had been deferred to a later date, insider sources concluded.
What now remains to be seen is how the ruling CDC is going to take this latest pronouncement by NEC in view of CDC’s violent stone throwing affray (captured on video) at Ms. Urey’s Logan Town headquarters and their violent assault on opposition supporters at the Liberty Party headquarters.
But according to sources(names withheld) an urgent meeting of the NEC Board of Commissioners was convened on Friday, August 2, 2019 to discuss issues arising out of the elections particularly the elections in District 15 which have been marred by allegations of fraud.
Further, according to sources, it was discovered that the head of the NEC data center, Floyd Sayor had included in the vote count, ballots which had been quarantined and was according to sources, ordered by oversight Commissioner, Jonathan Weedor to remove from the vote count, quarantined ballots suspected to have been fraudulent.
And unbelievably, according to sources, Sayor blatantly refused, arguing that should he do so, Ms. Urey will end up winning the vote, something which sources say was a clear manifestation of attempts by highly ranked government officials to manipulate the Commission and rig the elections results.
Additionally, according to sources, Grand Kru Representative Jonathan Kofa along with CDC Chairman Mulbah had showed up at the Commission’s headquarters in a rather angry mood. demanding Commissioners to provide reasons why the results of the elections were not shared with President Weah prior to the official release of the results.
But according to sources, NEC Commissioners remained adamant, declaring the results would stand as factually recorded, noting that some Commissioners had even threatened to resign were the fraudulent ballots allowed to stand. In the final analysis, according to sources, the fraudulent ballots were removed from the vote count and that saw Ms. Telia Urey taking the lead over her CDC rival Abu Kamara and this result was accordingly publicly announced by NEC Chairman Korkoya.
As it appears, this latest announcement is causing much unease within the ranks of the CDC according to some supporters (names withheld) who spoke to this newspaper. All of those CDC supporters spoken to appeared to agree that now is the time to for a change in direction and, as CDC luminary Representative Acarous Gray in a televised ELBC interview put it, it is time to “recalibrate”.
Whatever direction such recalibration is likely to take remains unclear at this point however, his declared stance that a cleanup of government and party has now become necessary to get rid of internal enemies who are undermining this government suggest that a power struggle may likely ensue. Hints are being dropped that the main intended target of this clean-up is Monrovia city Mayor Jefferson Koijee.
However, insider CDC sources say of the troika (Tweah, McGill, Koijee), Koijee is the most powerful. He is captured on video leading the assault on Telia Urey’s Logan Town Campaign headquarters. He was also involved in the violence in Gardnersville during the Cornelia Krua Togba campaign rally in 2018 and he currently serves as the chairman of the CDC Youth League. Thus, in any internal fight which may ensue, it is Koijee, according to sources, who may likely emerge winner.
For now, the city of Monrovia remains calm, now that the battle appears over but such appearances could be deceiving for it may very well be an uneasy calm, all things considered.