Amid voter fatigue, frustration, disenchantment and a host of other reasons responsible for the poor turnout in the Tuesday, July 31, Senatorial by-elections held in Montserrado and Bong counties, two men, Saah Hardy Joseph and Dr. Henrique Tokpa could be the candidates replacing George Manneh Weah (now President) and Jewel Howard Taylor (now Vice President), respectively, at the Liberian Senate.
The Weah-Taylor ticket was elected through popular vote in 2017. The election of the duo created vacancies in Bong and Montserrado and hence led to a need to hold by-elections to fill the vacancies caused by the election of Senators Weah and Taylor as President and Vice President respectively.
And as it went, the National Elections Commission yesterday declared Joseph as the leading contender in the Montserrado Senatorial race, with 4,386 votes or 55.1 percent, out of 7,960 total valid votes counted and tallied so far. His closest opponent, Bernard “DJ Blue” Benson, an independent candidate, received 1,689 or 21.2 percent of the total valid (7960) votes counted and tallied by NEC.
Unlike the case in Montserrado where the influence of the CDC and its standard bearer, President Weah, is yielding the expected results for the ruling party, Vice President Taylor’s robust campaign for Representative Josiah Marvin Cole in Bong County is likely to go down the drain.
Cole is trailing the former Cuttington University president, Dr. Henrique Tokpa by more than 10 percent. As NEC’s preliminary reports revealed yesterday, Cole has obtained 11,947 votes or 36.3 percent of the total votes as compared to Tokpa’s 15,735 votes or 47.8 percent of the total valid votes counted and tallied so far.
Dr. Tokpa was a formidable force in the 2014 Bong senatorial race against now VP Taylor. There were suggestions that he may have won the 2014 mid-term Senatorial election in Bong County; but after Court proceedings and the intervention of former President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, Tokpa conceded and Taylor was declared winner.
President Sirleaf later awarded him the post of Minister of Internal Affairs, after he had resigned from Cuttington University where he had served as its president.
NEC chairman, Jerome George Korkoya, delivering the Commission’s preliminary results at its headquarters in Monrovia yesterday, noted that of the 1,790 polling places in Montserrado, 127 polling places had reported.
He said the 127 polling places accounted for 8,056 votes or 7.9 percent of the total number of polling places. “NEC has recorded from the 8,056 votes counted, 96 invalid votes in Montserrado while Bong registered 722 invalid votes out of 33,611,” he said.
He pointed out that 51.99 percent of all polling places in Bong have reported, while 7.9 percent of all polling places in Montserrado have reported as well.
The NEC chairman said his Commission is pleased with the role each of the international partners and local bodies, including Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) and the media, played in the just ended electoral process.
He said the Senatorial by-elections were conducted smoothly. “Polls were opened as early as 8:00 a.m. and closed at 6:00 p.m. without any voter who went out to vote left out or denied the chance to exercise his or her constitutional right,” he said.
Korkoya told journalists that up to the time of the Commission’s presentation of the by-elections’ preliminary results yesterday, no complaint was brought by any party or independent candidate from the field about fraud.
“After the close of the polls, our staff were able to begin counting and shared with five agents of the highest performing candidates the preliminary results, while copies of the same results were pasted on the walls of the polling centers for general and public view as it is important to always demonstrate transparency, accountability and credibility in our conduct of national elections,” he declared.