Bomi County Senator-elect, Edwin Melvin Snowe, has been certificated finally after weeks of delay due to alleged electoral frauds and irregularities that could not be proven by his opponent.
He is among a number of senatorial candidates whose victory was challenged by a closed rival. Speaking to journalists yesterday at the headquarters of the NEC after certification, Snowe said the Commission needs sufficient financial support through the National Fiscal Budget if better and timely outcomes would be expected of an election.
“To state for the record, I saw what you went through at the Senate on Thursday (Feb. 18, 2021). I think it is just fair enough that the balance of power, checks and balance, the Legislature provides the necessary oversight. I can also say that for us to hold the NEC’s feet to the fire, we must give the appropriate financial allotment,” Sen. Snowe said.
His remark comes following the Senate’s displeasure with the National Elections Commission (NEC) over the many delays in hearing and settling post-election disputes, something the Senator said is responsible for the lack of quorum at times and low membership to vote on matters before its Plenary.
“That will enable the Commission to carry out its functions. I just went through the process and I know it is not possible that Article 83 (C) of the 1986 Constitution be fully executed when all of the counties, after the election, bring complaints seeking redress within one month from a limited staff, particularly in the dispute hearing department of the Commission,” Snowe noted further.
Article 83 (C) of the 1986 Revised Constitution of Liberia says: “The returns of elections shall be declared by the National Elections Commission not later than fifteen days after casting of the ballots. Any party or candidate who complaints about the manner in which the elections were conducted or who challenges the results thereof shall have the right to file a complaint with the Elections Commission.
“Such complaint must be filed not later than seven days after the announcement of the results of the elections. The Elections Commission shall, within thirty days of receipt of the complaint, conduct an impartial investigation and render a decision that may involve a dismissal of the complaint or a nullification of the election of a candidate. Any political party or candidate affected by such decision shall not later than seven days appeal to the Supreme Court.”
But with the NEC overwhelmed by the many complaints after the December 8, 2020 election, has fallen short of living according to Article 83 (C).
Since the December 8 polls, many complaints have come before the Commission, with some being heard and reheard but complainants or defendants continue to make exceptions to the decisions of the Commission.
Senator Snowe, in continuation of his speech, said Liberia needs to subscribe to the biometric system of election identification cards so as to help curtail the many challenges the country faces ranging from voter trucking to multiple registrations by individuals to participate in a single electoral process.
He thanked the people of Bomi for affording him yet another opportunity to serve them, mainly now at the higher level in the Legislature.
“Three years ago, out of love and care for me, you elected me to serve you as a Representative in one of your districts. After three years, you again went to the polls and elected me to serve you in the Senate. I am grateful to you and I promise that I will do my best to serve you because you have given me the reason to do so,” he said.
To the NEC, Snowe said: “You have done a great job, even though I am one of those who doubted and questioned your independence and credibility. You were professional and fair enough in all of your dealings with the elections. Thank you and you can count on me as one of your advocates at the Senate for all of your support.”
Snowe’s certification as Senator delayed because his main rivals, former Speaker Alex J. Tyler, and former Senator Sando D. Johnson, complained to the NEC that he, Snowe was involved in corrupt practices during the election process. The case of fraud and irregularities was heard by the Commission, but the complainants took exception to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court, too, ruled against Snowe’s complainants, thereby paving the way for him to be certificated as the Senator of Bomi.
Snowe was Representative of Montserrado Electoral Districts #5 and 6 from 2006 to 2017. He later moved to Bomi and contested for the same Representative seat in 2017 and defeated Gayah Karmo of Senjeh, Bomi District #1.
Madam Davidetta Brown Lansanah, chairperson of the NEC, while certificating Snowe, said the onus is on him and all others certificated by the Commission to do the Liberian people’s job.
“We go through lots of challenges but we do our best to respect the Constitution,” he said.