— Cllr. Gloria Musu Scott shares thoughts on Botoe Kanneh’s post-election legal battle
Cllr. Gloria Musa Scott, a former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Liberia and legal counsel for Gbarpolu County Senator-elect Botoe Kanneh, has described the Supreme Court ruling in favor of Madam Kanneh as a restoration of public confidence in the Country’s justice system.
“The Supreme Court’s final decision in the case involving Senator-elect Botoe Kanneh has strengthened the people of Liberia’s confidence in the judiciary system of the country,” Cllr. Scott said.
“We are using this opportunity to appreciate the Supreme Court for its decision to see the truth and say it without fear or favor.”
The Supreme Court of Liberia on March 24, 2021, ordered the Board of Commissioners of the National Elections Commission to announce the results of the Special Senatorial Election held in Gbarpolu County. Madam Botoe Kanneh was the county’s only female candidate in the December 8, 2020, senatorial elections.
At a press conference attended by prominent women of Liberia, Cllr. Scott, who represented the interest of Madam Kanneh in a heated two-month post-election legal battle, praised the women who left their businesses, jobs, and families to ensure that the votes of a sister were protected.
The women at the press conference chanted: “The dry meat seller beat the giant… the Lappa movement will ensure that women have equal representation at the decision-making table.”
Explaining the lappa movement, Cllr. Scott said: “During the war when the people were running and a pregnant woman is about to give birth, the women will use their lappa and surround their friend to ensure that she is not disgraced. Even when women are disgraced in public places, women used their lappa to cover their shame.”
She said after all the difficulties Madam Kanneh experienced in the just-ended elections, the women of Liberia decided to join her to ensure that justice got served.
“The women believe that the courage of Madam Kanneh to stand up and compete with male politicians shows that she deserves the needed encouragement and support by other women,” Cllr. Scott said.
She added that, after NEC has implemented the court’s mandate by certificating Madam Kanneh, the women of Liberia will escort her to the Capitol building to watch her take her official seat because that is a ‘victory for women’.
She expressed appreciation to all of the supporters for using their resources to support a “dry meat seller,” who did not have the money to fund her appeal process at the level of the Supreme Court.
“Our appreciation goes especially to the underground supporters who are not only females but all males who wish well for Liberia and believe in the various democratic systems, truth and honestly not only at the Supreme Court, but at the National Election Commission.”
Cllr. Scott disclosed that the second appeal, involving Edith Gongloe-Weh’s argument was to be heard on March 24, 2021, but due to technical problems which the Supreme Court has ordered the NEC to correct the matter will be heard on March 30.
“The court has also instructed that the case involving Gongloe-Weh’s challenge about the outcome and counting of the votes be heard on Tuesday, March 30, 2021,” she said.
Cllr. Scott said as a lawyer, her interpretation of the processes of conducting elections in Liberia, where the Constitution and election law give NEC the power to hear complaints is intended for honestly, credibility and for NEC to take internal collective action as a means to shorten the process.
“This is why the Constitution mandates that the process has a timeline and give due process when dealing with elections matters, that it should be done speedily,” she said.
Cllr. Scott said the Constitution gives NEC the inherent collective power, adding that to exercise said power, the commission must have the integrity and credibility so that they should not have so many contested cases. Rather than defending the violation of their staffs in the field, that will create a lot of confidence in the system.
Julia Duncan-Cassell, former Minister of Gender said the idea of the women’s movement to ensure women’s political participation at all levels is not just about Kanneh and Gongloe-Weh, but to ensure that leadership is on a 50/50 basis.
She called on all political parties to include women on their ticket during every election, adding that when the Congress for Democratic Change was in opposition, all of the women that contested on their ticket won and led differently.
MaCdaella Cooper, Political Leader of the Movement for One Liberia (MOL) described the women’s movement as the ‘lappa revolution,’ which will ensure that women are represented at every level. She disclosed that Madam Kanneh has won and Gongloe-Weh still has her legal battle and requires the same support.