In election dispute case between Gongloe-Weh and Koung
It is exactly seven days today, Tuesday, since the Supreme Court began hearing the pros and cons surrounding legal argument in the electoral fraud and irregularities case filed before the highest court of the land.
The suit is seeking re-run of the December 8 Special Senatorial Election in Nimba County in five districts, a situation that has left the people on a knife’s edge as to who becomes their next Senator.
In most of the cases being heard, the court took sometimes seven days to make a determination into electoral disputes, even though the high court has about ten days to do so.
No candidate in this particular case can credibly claim to have won yet, because both parties’ lawyers are putting arguments that sound convincing and critical in deciding the case, though the Supreme Court Justices are equally inclined to the law and more knowledgeable to make a decision that will be binding as any case from there goes nowhere.
With the tension that is characterizing the arguments, it appears thatthe court may exhaust the ten days it has to hear electoral disputes.
Initially, the National Elections Commission (NEC) announced Koung as the winner of the December 8 Special Senatorial Election in Nimba County with a total vote of 37,899, which represents 36.12 percent, while Edith Gongloe Weh obtained 34,153, representing 32.55 percent. However, Madam Gongloe-Weh challenged the results and her argument is re-run.
Lawyers representing Madam Gongloe-Weh are seeking the Court’s mandate to rerun the December 2020 polls in five electoral districts in Nimba, citing several irregularities, electoral fraud voters’ intimidation, among others.
Madam Weh, who is represented by a team of experienced lawyers including her biological brother, Cllr. Tiawan Gongloe who heads the Liberian National Bar Association (LNBA), argues that there were unsealed ballot boxes delivered to the local NEC office without a security escort.
Additionally, they argue that Senator Prince Johnson, a key supporter of Rep. Koung, visited a polling place in military attire with armed escorts, which scared voters and sparked tension that resulted into one person sustaining injury.
They further argued that Temper Evidence Envelopes (TEEs), a carbon envelope used by Presiding Officers (POs) for record of the count, PO’s worksheet, and journal — the records that are hand-delivered to the electoral supervisor, were missing.
Rep. Koung’s legal team had also argued raising the issue of lack of evidence particularly on the involvement of the now only Senator Prince Johnson.
Cllr. Arthur Johnson, one of Rep. Koung’s lawyers, refuted claims that poll workers delivered unsealed ballot boxes.
They dispelled allegations that voting was done in cartons as claimed by Gongloe-Weh’s team.
Now, ears and eyes are opened to hear and see the Supreme Court’s decision in this case that has divided the two major tribes (Gio and Mano) of Nimba County.