Nimba County Senatorial Candidate Edith Gongloe-Weh has called on authorities of the National Elections Commission (NEC) to conduct a rerun in selected localities where were fraud and irregularities were discovered during the just ended December 8, 2020, senatorial election.
Gongloe-Weh at a news conference with some women rights advocates in Monrovia yesterday, January 28, 2021, cautioned that unresolved fraud in elections is a recipe to chaos, referencing1985 presidential election as a situation that set Liberia on the path to 14 years of self-destruction leaving over 250,000 lives lost.
She said, “The right thing to do in Nimba is a rerun in selected localities where irregularities occurred. It is simple! If our opponent claims that he won fair and squarely, he should not shy away from a re-run anywhere.”
Madam Gongloe-Weh said it is disappointing that the case before the National Elections Commission Board of Commissioner is taking longer than expected, adding that “Our case is against NEC who is also the judge, but again, we are hoping that they do the right thing. We believe that we have a strong case because the laws that govern the electoral body were violated.”
“It has been more than thirty days since we filed our complaints about irregularities and fraud in the Nimba County Mid-Term Senatorial Election,” she said, adding, “Our initial complaints dated on December 13 and 14, 2020, were filed with the Upper Nimba Election Magistrate, J. Bledor Flomo in Sanniquillie City, Nimba County. Based on that complaint, the first hearing was scheduled for December 16, 2020, at which hearing our lawyers made a motion for change of venue because of threats to us.”
Gongloe-Weh accused Representative Jeremiah Koung, candidate of MDR/CDC, and his supporters of insulting her every step of the way during the campaign and after the election, but said did not deter her from fighting for her rights in the senatorial election.
She said there were threats detected when she observed that her team was being followed by an unmarked vehicle over the course of several days just before and immediately after the December 8, 2020 election.
“Our intelligence sources warned us to be careful. Based on their advice, we fled Ganta and sought refuge outside of Nimba County. It was due to our expressed fear that our lawyers requested the change of venue, which was granted by the hearing officer in Sanniquillie,” Gongloe-Weh said.
Gongloe-Weh said: “Like Madam Kanneh, we were similarly the only female candidate in the field of seven candidates. We were already following the Gbarpolu case where Madam Botoe was threatened with the country devil, beaten, and one of her female supporters reportedly sexually abused. Anyone would understand why we had to flee Nimba County following the information we received about the surveillance of our whereabouts.”
She said one important thing that former President, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf did for women in Liberia and Africa, in general, was to embolden them and gave them the courage to venture into politics and shift the troubling narratives of the continent, disclosing that “What is more troubling in the conduct of these elections in Liberia is the way state- sponsored candidates have proceeded in targeting strong female candidates to frighten us into submission. They are badgering and tormenting women so that we will abandon the political field and leave it with them.”
For us, what happened in Nimba and Gbarpolu are not isolated events. They have calculated attempts to silence the voices of women in politics and squash the hard-earned legacy of Madam Sirleaf, even while she is alive. What an affront! They have always charged that women do not support women. That story was challenged in the just-ended mid-term election in some counties. The women of Nimba and Gbarpolu Counties stood up. They voted! Their votes have been manipulated and we, on their behalf, want answers,” Gongloe-Weh said.
Gongloe-Weh Gives Reasons Why There Should Be Rerun
Giving reasons why there should be re-run in some locations, Madam Gongloe-Weh said on December 8, 2020, ballots were cast in open cartoons instead of the regularly certified and protected ballot boxes at two polling centers in Ganta. She said when they asked, the electoral supervisor admitted before the hearing officers that the ballot boxes were missing on grounds that the Ganta Police had refused to take charge of the boxes and other sensitive election materials on the eve of the election.
“As a result of the police refusal,” she said, “The boxes and sensitive materials were kept at the J.W Pearson High School without security and some boxes went missing the following morning. That was the justification provided for voting in open cartoons! Some electorate refused to vote in the open cartoon, so they left without voting.”
Gongloe-Weh also said when the tally was being done in Sanniquellie, her team observed that her votes were reduced at two polling centers which were quickly complained that led the magistrate to order election workers to take down results placed on the wall after counting.
“The Magistrate also refused to allow our observers to get copies of the tallied sheet sent to Monrovia. We filed our complaint to the very magistrate who gave us the complaint form based on our verbal complaint,” she said.
Reacting to Gongloe-Weh’s accusation shortly after the press statement, Representative Jeremiah Koung said the election in Nimba was free, fair and transparent, adding that all candidates had the opportunity to make their cases to the people of Nimba County and he was successfully elected as the Senator.
He said since Gongloe-Weh presented her case to NEC, she has not been able to prove or provide pieces of evidence of some frauds she alleges occurred during the elections, stressing that “All the witnesses she brought testify on the basis of ‘hearsay’ and people do not win an election on sympathy.”
Koung said Gongloe-Weh is seeking women’s rights interventions because she has sensed her defeat, boasting that “Even those tally sheets of upper Nimba are available, we got a copy and they do not even a have copy available to them; that is to tell you how all their saying is based on sentiments and buying sympathy from the public.”
He said if anyone was insulted during the election, he was the one, adding “Everything I say is just in response to what Edith had told me. I have three girls that I cherished very much. Besides, my mother did not go to school but she listens to what have been said on the radio.”
Koung said, “On the 8th of December at 10 P.M. Madam Gongloe-Weh and her supporters took to the street jubilating that she has won the election, but when the result came from the other side of the county, she started complaining of cheating.”