By David S. Menjor and Alvin Worzi
As calm settled over the Montserrado Electoral District #13 Representative By-Election, three candidates, including the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC)’s John J. Weah, Jr., Unity Party’s (UP) Cornelia Kruah-Togba and independent Edward P. Flomo were reportedly locked in what appeared to be a close contest laden with surprises.
Although preliminary results in the possession of the Daily Observer suggest that independent candidate Flomo stands a strong chance to clinch victory, results from other polling areas which could tilt the balance in any direction are yet to come in.
Peaceful Nature of the Polls and Low Turnout
Although echoes of last Saturday’s fracas between supporters of CDC candidate Weah and UP candidate Kruah-Togba still hung in the air, yesterday’s polls were violence free. Poor voter turnout however threw a damper on the process. It remained unclear, up to press time, whether poor turnout at the polls was the result of voter apathy or whether it was due to fear and apprehension about a possible flare-up of violence judging from events of last Saturday.
Tete Fayambo, 34, said she was pleased with the way the voting process proceeded, and she was looking forward to seeing her candidate, Cornelia Kruah Togba come out with flying colors over her opponents. She cast her vote at Mother Kabeh Academy along the Battery Factory Road.
“I came here to vote for the woman who, I think if she succeeds her heart will not be taken away from this district. She loves this district and over the years she has demonstrated her love by doing some good things ” Fayambo said although he did not cite any example of what he referred to as “good things” .
Several other voters interviewed by the Daily Observer expressed their gratitude to the National Elections Commission (NEC) and the Liberia National Police for the peaceful conduct of the by-election but cautioned that NEC should not do anything to cast aspersion on the results which according to Fayambo, should be maintained.
Journalists, others temporarily denied access to polling centers
The National Elections Commission (NEC) accredited journalists representing various media outlets were denied access to a number of polling places, including St. Michael Catholic High School, and the Gabriel Kpolleh Memorial High School when vote counting began.
According to police officers at the gates of the schools, the NEC field supervisors passed on the mandate demanding that no persons, other than NEC officials and international observers, should be allowed in once counting of votes started.
After a call was made to the NEC acting Director of Communications Prince Dunbar, and Chairman Cllr. Jerome George Korkoya, Police and NEC supervisors were advised to allow accredited journalists entry into the polling halls in order to follow the tallying process.
The two schools are located in the New Georgia area where last Saturday campaigns were marred by violence between CDC and UP supporters.
Interestingly, President George Weah was seen campaigning for the CDC candidate, John J. Weah, prior to and after the violent confrontation between the CDC and the Unity Party, apparently being unmoved by the violent turn of things on last Saturday.
According to him, at the close of the campaign, President Weah said CDC was not prepared to lose any elections to opposition parties neither independent candidates but as preliminary results show, the CDC candidate, John J. Weah is still on a slippery slope.
Interestingly all of the candidates have their respective individual strong holds on which they are counting to propel them to victory. Independent candidate, Edward P. Flomo, for instance, has taken the lead in Battery Factory and other parts of the district; the CDC candidate, John J. Weah has his stronghold in areas, including the New Georgia Gulf, New Georgia Estate and Tusa-field community; while Cornelia Kruah Togba is said to enjoy wide support throughout the District.
During visits to the various polling sites by the Daily Observer, it was observed that the William Gabriel Kpolleh High School, located in the New Georgia Estate is being dominated by CDC candidate John J. Weah followed by Candidate Cornelia Kruah-Togba of the Unity Party, while independent candidate Edward P. Flomo crawls behind the two. Also, at the Janice High School polling center, located in the New Georgia Gulf, CDC candidate Weah was reported to be in the lead.
Meanwhile, reports (unconfirmed) from outlying communities including the St. Michael and Chocolate City Communities, among others, suggested that UP’s Cornelia Kruah-Togba was dominating the polls.