–NEC Board of Commissioners decides today
National Elections Commission (NEC) Board of Commissioners (BoC) says it will on Thursday, August 22, 2019 (today) at 2:00 p.m. decide as to whether or not there should be a re-run at 20 polling places in Montserrado Electoral District #15.
Final arguments were presented on Wednesday, August 21, from the opposing legal teams representing Telia Urey and Abu Bana Kamara, candidates for the Montserrado Electoral District #15 representative seat in the July 29, 2019 by-election, as to whether or not there should be any re-run at the 20 polling places that are said to have allegedly been overshadowed by “irregularities and fraud.”
Telia Urey ran on the ticket of the All Liberian Party (ALP), which is part of the four Collaborating Political Parties (CPP), while Abu Bana Kamara ran on the ticket of the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC).
In a bill of exception, lawyers, including Cllr. Jonathan Massaquoi, Attorneys Phil Tarpeh Dixon and Kukuyour T. Wreh, representing Candidate Abu Kamara of the CDC, argued that NEC’s hearing officer, Cllr. Muana S. Ville, “erroneously ignored and refused to consider certain relevant and material evidence adduced during the fact-finding investigation.
“Defendant said that the illegal, erroneous, prejudicial and biased ruling is a fit subject for a reversal, because the evidence you disregarded have the tendency to change your holding on the question of annulment of the aforesaid election result,” the lawyers wrote in their bill of exception, filed on Friday, August 16, 2019.
Kamara’s lawyers have called on the NEC to nullify Cllr. Ville’s ruling, which calls for a re-run at the (allegedly) affected polling places. The lawyers have also considered a recount of all of the ballots cast at all polling stations, including those 20 polling stations said to have been affected by alleged irregularities and fraud.
According to the lawyers, Cllr. Ville and his colleagues immensely contradicted themselves when they said in their recent ruling, which called for the re-run, that there were not enough pieces of evidence to prove that any malpractice went on at the polling places across the entire district #15, for which the results of the by-election should be cancelled.
On the other hand, Telia Urey’s lawyers, including Cllrs. Lavela Supuwood, David B. Gibson and Attorney Samuel Zayzay, argued that allowing the recount of the votes will only give Telia’s main opponent, Kamara, a greater edge and, by extension, an undeserved victory.
The team’s argument noted that the areas said to have been affected by electoral irregularities and fraud may possibly have votes already tampered with in favor of the CDC candidate. As such, it will be unnecessary to accept any recount.
Next: Grand Cape Mount County
In a related development, the NEC has set October 5, 2019 as the date for the conduct of Grand Cape Mount County Senatorial By-Election.
The filling of the vacancy comes following the death of Senator Edward Dagoseh.
The Grand Cape Mount County Senatorial By-Election will be the third by-election held in less than two years of the administration of President George Weah.
The first was about the filling in of vacancies created by Weah’s election to the highest office as well as that of his Vice President Jewel Howard Taylor.
The both of them were Senators for Montserrado and Bong counties respectively. That Senatorial by-election was held on August 31, 2018 and it brought to the Senate former Montserrado Electoral District #13 Representative Saah Joseph as well as former President of Cuttington University in Suakoko Dr. Henrique Tokpah.
Next were the fiercely contested July 29, 2019 Montserrado Senatorial and District #15 Representative by-elections.
Those vacancies were created due to the death of Senator Geraldine Doe Sheriff and Representative Adolph A. Lawrence.
Abraham Darius Dillon of the Liberty party won the Senate seat, while Telia Urey and Kamara are yet to get off the electoral brouhaha in District #15.