Senator Grupee Takes Issue with NEC

Sen. Thomas Grupee

….Wants staff reshuffled

The National Elections Commission (NEC) may not have a bone to pick with Senator Thomas Grupee but he has vowed to challenge the Commission to reshuffle its staff, particularly magistrates, before the 2020 Senatorial elections.

At a press conference at his Capitol Building office on Thursday, the Nimba County Senator said there is every reason to recommend to the NEC, ahead of the 2020 Senatorial election, particularly in Nimba because it will not be a child’s play.

Grupee, an incumbent is up for re-election in the 2020 election. His admonishment to the Commission came barely two weeks when his colleague, Senator Prince Yormie Johnson said he will do all within his power to support Nimba Electoral District #1 Representative, Jeremiah Koung, who aims to unseat Grupee in the Senate.

NEC Chair Jerome Kokoya

“Considering the crucial nature of the upcoming Senatorial election in 2020 in my county of Nimba, I am calling on the National Elections Commission to reshuffle its long-serving magistrates. This is for the sake of transparency, credibility, and fairness of the electoral process,” he said.

He added that with a number of the magistrates now having served for a very long time in certain regions, it will be fair for them to go to other parts of the country and continue their service rather than remain at the same place of assignment.

“The guys are too complacent and, knowing that there are several interconnections between them and a host of other residents, among whom are politicians, it could be challenging for them to work with independent minds,” he said.

According to Grupee, Liberia is one country for all and, as such, a magistrate in Nimba, Grand Gedeh, Bong or any other county should be willing to go to other parts of the country to serve, rather than thinking that they are only suitable in their current place of assignment.

From all indications, and as already made known by PYJ, Sen. Grupee will have to fight his own fight at the polls on election’s day.

The two were best of friends in 2011 when Grupee entered the race. PYJ campaigned for Grupee and his presence in the county accounted for a number of votes he won, which subsequently led him to victory. And interestingly Grupee returned the gesture in 2014 when PYJ returned to the polls for the re-election as Senator of Nimba.

However, the political camaraderie between the two appears to have maxed out, mainly upon PYJ’s desire to lift the hand of Rep. Koung in Ganta, Sanniquellie, Tapita, Saclepea and other nooks and crannies of the county, to replace Grupee.

PYJ, who is dubbed the ‘political godfather of Nimba’ has been able to survive well on the graces of his county kinfolk, although his tough-talking, crafty persona is a long shadow that lingers from his days as a soldier and a former warlord.

By being unpredictable, he impresses the most savvy politicians of his influence in Nimba County and what it means for national leadership in any given election.

His new best friend, Rep. Koung, is serving his second term as Representative for Nimba District #1. He won his second term in 2017 and will have accrued a little over three years in 2020 as Representative when he enters the Nimba Senatorial election.

Rep. Jeremiah K. Koung (left), an executive member of Sen. Prince Johnson’s (right) party and PYJ’s choice for the 2020 senatorial election

Koung, whose mother (deceased) hailed from Nimba and father from Maryland County, has lived in the Nimba County since childhood. He has invested almost everything he has earned in business and politics in Nimba.  With PYJ declaring to support him for the Senate, a number of Nimbaians who preferred anonymity when asked to comment for this report, think that he (Koung) cannot be trusted.

“Ganta, for example, is a great commercial town and it attracts all Liberians and even other nationals, including Guineans and Ivorians. So it is not a big deal that Koung chose not to identify with Maryland but Nimba, although his father was from there (Maryland),” one said.

The young man said the university student unions from Nimba, mainly from Ganta and other Mano towns, will soon hold a rally in Nimba to inform all Nimbaians, irrespective of the tribe, that it is time PYJ’s political ideologies are condemned by rejecting his imposition of leaders on the people of the county.

“People think we who are from Nimba are stupid but that is not the case. PYJ has succeeded as he did over the years because we have voted in the county not on national interest but tribal interest,” he said.

The student community of Nimba, mainly from the Mano territory, will launch a campaign calling on all those that have interest in the 2020 election to consider letting one candidate run against Koung and, a host of others who may not want to give in to a strong coalition.

When contacted via mobile phone, the acting director of communications at the NEC, Prince Dunbar, said Sen. Grupee’s recommendation is his constitutional right to do so, but advised that he (Grupee) should reduce his recommendation on the reshuffling of the staff of the Commission into writing.

“The Commission has been doing exactly what the Senator is asking for but as it is, this is an autonomous agency and we operate on an impartial basis. He should officially do a communication recommending the action and if the Commission sees it fit, it will be honored,” Dunbar said.

He added that Grupee’s observation is not a strange thing to the Commission, as in previous elections, it (NEC) reshuffled magistrates and in cases where there were by-elections, other magistrates were called upon to collaborate with the host magistrates of the Commission.


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