Grand Gedeh Senatorial Candidates Want Election Magistrate Out

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NEC headquarters in Monrovia

— says magistrate Arthur Duogee is a rogue element who since 2011 have supervised elections that have been characterized by fraud and contentions.

Nine senatorial candidates’ in Grand Gedeh County have written the National Elections Commission (NEC) to express their vote of no confidence in the county’s senior election magistrate. 

The nine candidates, who are all contesting for the County’s senatorial seat in the upcoming December 8 midterm election, alleged that the county’s senior election magistrate, Arthur Duogee, is a rogue element who, since 2011, has supervised elections that have been characterized by fraud and contentions.

The complainant, which includes prominent Grand Gedeans such as Thomas Yaya Nimely and George Saigbe Boley, Sr., alleged that magistrate Duogee’s conduct during elections has led to distrust and results to be challenged at the level of the Supreme Court of Liberia, due to lots of irregularity.

“Duogee’s negative influence on the outcomes of elections in Grand Gedeh County is common knowledge [among the people]. A case in point is an audio recording of a conversation held between magistrate Duogee and one Aaron Togba,” the senatorial aspirants said.  “In this conversation, held a few days to the date of the 2017 presidential and legislative elections, they were heard conspiring on how to manipulate the election results in favor of certain candidates in the county. Incidentally, the former, with whom the latter held the conversation of conspiracy, was at the time Chief of Office Staff to Representative Alex Grant, who himself was a candidate in said election.”

According to the aspirants, Duogee’s negative influence on the outcomes of elections in Grand Gedeh County is common knowledge in the county as it was evidence during the 2011 representative election in the county which was marred by fraud and massive irregularities.

Under the banner, “Senatorial Candidates in Support of Transparent Election in Grand Gedeh County”, the group further alleged that William Karyee, one of the contenders in that election, accused the magistrate of manipulating the election results in favor of one of Karyee’s opponents, Rep. Alex Grant of District #3.

“Furthermore, the 2014 midterm senatorial election held in Margibi County and supervised by Duogee was characterized by acrimony and allegations of fraud and manipulation while in Grand Gedeh County, the 2017 representative election also supervised by him in District # 2 was marred by fraud and allegations of vote-rigging.

“As such, we request that Mr. Duogee be removed from the position of Senior Elections Magistrate in the county to ensure a peaceful, transparent, and credible conduct of the election.  In light of the above, we wish to categorically state that magistrate Duogee lacks the integrity to supervise a transparent and credible election in the county. Should you conduct an independent assessment of his standing in the county, you would establish that he has lost the confidence of the majority of the people of the county,” said the group.

The group in their complaint letter to the electoral body said that if the body insists on Duogee’s stay at his post, it would be an invitation for tension and violence, a situation “we all need to avoid, ensuring a peaceful democratic election and stable Liberia.”

Meanwhile, the group further informed the electoral body of Magistrate Duogee’s violation of Section 2.5 of the Election Law of Liberia as a member of the ruling party, the Congress for Democratic Change (CDC).

Section 2.5 of the Election Law states that: “No Commissioner, Election Officer or an employee of the Commission shall be a member or an affiliate of any Political Party, Coalition, Alliance, or an association or organization.”

“Duogee is a member/affiliate of the CDC, contrary to Section 2.5 of the Election Law of Liberia,” the group said in its letter to the NEC. “We, as candidates, are prepared to do our part and are also requesting the Commission to do its part by eschewing real and potential hurdles that are capable of undermining the integrity of the ensuing election and thus causing mayhem in the country.

“We want to make it clear that we do not speak malice of Duogee but to bring to light his negative actions in the discharge of his fiduciary duties that clearly have undermined our democratic principles. The right to vote is one of the most important rights enshrined in our democracy. When an individual, who is charged with the responsibility to ensure that such right is exercised by his fellow citizens, failed to act in keeping with the laws of our land, that individual has clearly violated the law,” the group’s letter stressed.

According to them, when the law is willfully and repeatedly violated, the individual responsible for such violations is inciting public violence and creating conflict between the people and their government.

“We need not over-emphasize the importance of elections to the promotion and sustainability of peace and harmony in Liberia. As you are aware, Liberia has had a devastating experience from a protracted civil war, which was largely caused by disputed election results,” the letter noted.

The complaint has since been received by the electoral body, a source at the NEC told the Daily Observer. The source also said NEC is looking into the matter.

The letter of complaint to NEC was signed by Cyrus S. Cooper, Senatorial Candidate, People’s Unification Party; Joseph W. Geebro, Senatorial Candidate, Movement for Progressive Change; Beatrice Wonnah Johnson, Independent Candidate and Thomas Yaya Nimely, Senatorial Candidate – Liberia Restoration Party (LRP).

Others are William G Nyanue, Independent Candidate; Felicia FlahnDoboyonnoh Duncan, Senatorial Candidate, Collaborating Political Parties; Zleh Amos, Senatorial Candidate, Rainbow Alliance; and George Saigbe Boley, Sr., Senatorial Candidate, United People’s Party.

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