-After long period of election disputes
After months of election disputes calling for a rerun and recount of ballots in Gbarpolu and Rivercess Counties, Botoe Kanneh of Gbarpolu and Wellington Geevon Smith of Rivercess now have the way opened to move to the Senate and join their colleagues.
With rulings by the Supreme Court of Liberia mandating the NEC to conduct a recount in Rivercess and rerun in some parts of Gbarpolu, the election body performed the tasks and the two finally won the posts, thereby leading NEC to certificate them on Tuesday, March 30, 2021 to form part of the 54th Legislature with the constitutional mandate of a nine-year tenure.
Both Madam Kanneh and Mr. Smith experienced tremendous post-election hurdles and it only required the law to vindicate them as qualified to assume their respective offices on Capitol Hill.
Madam Botoe Kanneh, whose victory was challenged by her close rival, Representative Alfred Koiwood, won the votes of her people for demonstrating the passion for service to them.
While the election was ongoing in December last year, local authorities in the county seized some of the ballot boxes on an allegation that Sierra Leoneans were participating in the election in the interest of Madam Kanneh.
Reports had it that she was intimidated, harassed and some of her supporters raped, something which prompted the government to dispatch more Police and other national security officials in that county to bring the situation under control.
Amid Kanneh’s compelling lead during the counting, Koiwood filed an appeal to the Supreme Court and after deliberation the court ordered her certification.
For Rivercess Wellington Geevon Smith, his main rival, Steve Tequah, demanded a recount twice after Smith was pronounced winner, and after addressing his concerns, Smith’s victory was finally secured.
NEC chairperson, Madam Davidetta Browne Lansanah, reemphasized at the certification of Kanneh and Smith that election is everybody’s business and as such, ensuring that there is a peaceful conduct of it whenever it comes, cannot be overemphasized.
Madam Lansanah said respect for the rule of law and appreciating the tenets of democracy keep peace and sustain peaceful coexistence among people who claim ownership to a community or country.
She said while the public may have its own perceptions, the Commission is committed to conducting free, fair and transparent elections at all times.
In their respective acceptance speeches, both Senators-elect, Botoe Kanneh and Wellington Geevon Smith, lauded the NEC for the professional manner in which they handled the electoral processes and express their own commitments to support any constitutional effort aimed at ensuring that NEC is fully capacitated to do its job as required by law.