Opposition candidates take commanding lead in by-elections’ polls
By all indications, these just concluded by-elections in Montserrado County and reports of results coming in so far suggests that the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) appears to be in grave danger of losing its once vaunted and seemingly impregnable Montserrado County strong-hold, with the opposition reportedly taking a commanding lead in the polls.
CDC candidates, Paulita Wie and Abu Kamara, both first-time runners, are so far trailing in the polls as of late last night, and indications are that they are not likely to upset the commanding lead held by Abraham Darius Dillon and Ms. Telia Urey, also both first-time runners.
Political observers here attribute their apparent victory as a sign of popular protest against President George Weah and his CDC for the difficult economic conditions faced by most people. Most public criticisms against this government appears directed at what is perceived as runaway corruption in this government, which is in turn creating much hardships for the people.
On a whole, the elections have been largely peaceful, although there were reports of violence in Logan Town involving CDC supporters who, according to eyewitness accounts, stormed opposition candidate Telia Urey’s headquarters and attacked her supporters on Saturday, July 27. There were also reports of a discharge of firearms by Presidential bodyguards, while clearing a Police mounted roadblock. No fatalities or injuries were however reported.
Additionally, there were public concerns about the integrity of the Voters Roll (FRR) which had not been cleaned as mandated by the Supreme Court in 2017. A shouting match involving an exchange of invectives resulting in a near fistfight is said to have erupted between opposition leader Benoni Urey and National Elections Commission (NEC) Chairman Korkoya during discussions at NEC headquarters over concerns about the integrity of the Voters Roll.
These concerns, notwithstanding, the polls went well with virtually no reports of vote rigging, at least from initial on the spot vote counts at the various polling places. At some polling places though, there were fears that it was getting late and the ballot boxes had not been picked up by the NEC although some results were reportedly posted relatively late well after the vote count.
But at latest count, both opposition candidates, Dillon and Telia Urey appeared to be in commanding lead. The official results will, however, be officially announced by the NEC following official tallying of votes, which is expected to take a day or two.
In a related development, NEC said it has not begun releasing provisional results of the Monday’s by-elections.
The commission said its attention is drawn to the fact that some voters and the general public are raising concerns over the wave of public radio announcement of “unofficial results.”
NEC stresses that when it begins to release provisional results, the process will be done at its Media Center in the full glare of national and international media practitioners, as well as national and international partners and observers. The NEC provisional results will also be posted on its official website: www.necliberia.org and on its official facebook and twitter accounts.
NEC henceforth reminds journalists and political parties that it is only the Commission that has the legal mandate to conduct elections and declare results thereof. This is supported by section 2.9(g) of the New Election Law of 1986.
Section 2.9(g) of the new elections law of 1986, under power and duties, states: …conduct all elections for elective public offices including the chieftaincy election and all referenda and declare the winner results thereof.
The Commission has meanwhile requested all candidates to send representatives to its headquarters in Sinkor where results of Monday’s by-elections will be tallied, and that the tally process will begin today at 12 p.m.