Liberian women have begun a concerted effort aimed at supporting one another in legal battle surrounding election disputes arising from the recent senatorial election held on December 8, 2020. The latest support is going towards legal and logistical support for Madam Botoe Kanneh whom the NEC finally declared as the winner in the Gbarpolu Senatorial race, and Madam Edith Gongloe-Weh, who the NEC declared as one of the losers in Nimba County. Madam Weh has meanwhile raised the issue of fraud and irregularities.
The Liberian women’s resolve to stand by their embattled sisters on this tough political journey, mainly via post-election dispute resolution through the National Elections Commission (NEC) and the Supreme Court, seems to be beyond words.
With the two ladies still striving to make history by overcoming their present political challenges, the women group, noted for gathering and offering prayers opposite Fish Market, along the Tubman Boulevard, is expected this Wednesday, March 3, to conduct a fundraising rally to support the two female politicians.
“The women of Liberia will hold a fundraiser on Wednesday for the women. We will be looking out for donations and any amount we get, we will use it to help the ladies. We are looking for US$10,000 for Botoe Kanneh from Gbarpolu and Edith Gongloe-Weh from Nimba,” Madam Yvette Chesson Wureh told the Daily Observer over the weekend.
Madam Wureh said even though she is not a politician and does not wish to be one, she is in support of efforts aimed at ensuring that women get justice.
“It is absolutely necessary that they go to the Court. So we the women are trying to raise funds. We are doing the best we can to raise sufficient money to support them,” she added.
To date, two women contenders in the December 8, 2020 Special Senatorial Election in Nimba and Gbarpolu are still fighting for what they think is their entitlement to be considered Senators of the two counties based on results they have so far gathered from the tallying processes of the NEC.
Additionally, the women have stood to fight more on grounds that their male counterparts suppressed, harassed, and made attempts to steal from them the victory they are confident they achieved in that election.
As the women solidarity group prepares for the rally, Cllr. Chesson-Wureh disclosed that there will be food and other things on sale to help raise funds, and she is hopeful that not only women but also men who believe in the values of women will make contribution.
“If we don’t stand up today for them, what legacy will we have for our girl children who may want to vy for public offices? Are certain public offices exclusively set aside for men? No, absolutely not, and as such, we will not sit and watch this happen,” the female lawyer said.
She pointed out that even if both Mesdames Kanneh and Gongloe-Weh had enough money to support themselves all through their legal fight, it will be insensitive on her part and many other women across the country and in the diaspora to sit and watch the two ladies suffer alone.
“The powerful struggles and successes of Ruth Caesar, Mary Laurene Browne, Mary Antoinette Browne Sherman, Ma Mary Brownell, among many other women, live on and we shall protect their legacy by standing up, not only for these ones but also in future elections, including 2023 Legislative and Presidential elections,” she further assured.
According to her, Liberia has the most well-behaved men in the sub-region and, with that, she is confident that many of them will rise up and support the fight for women’s rights in the best interest of democracy.
Cllr. Chesson-Wureh referenced the UN Security Council Resolution 1325 which stresses the importance of their equal participation and full involvement in all efforts for the maintenance and promotion of peace and security. This includes the role of women in politics, as well as peacekeeping.
As an international instrument to which Liberia is a signatory and should obey, this year is the 10th anniversary of the UN Resolution 1325.
She outlined the many significant contributions women are making in their homes, places of work and in the body politic of the country.
Botoe Kanneh lauds fellow women, others, tells her story
Praising her colleagues’ efforts in ensuring that she and her fellow candidate, Edith Gongloe-Weh, have enough support not only financially but at all levels in order to continue their post-election legal fight, Madam Botoe Kanneh had this to say:
“While I am not out there begging people to help me, I am so deeply touched by the love shown me and my sister, Madam Edith Gongloe-Weh. This is like a funeral. Even if you are wealthy, it is customary that you accept people’s tokens intended to sympathize with you and this we will wholeheartedly do because our people are doing it out of pure love,” Kanneh said.
Kanneh and her opponent, Gbarpolu District #1 Representative Alfred Koiwood, are now before the Supreme Court and hearing is expected any time soon.
According to her, her opponent’s allegation that Sierra Leoneans registerd and voted in Gbarpolu is unfounded and has no magnitude.
“Imagine, the same people who registered and voted in 2017 for the same people are today aliens because they went out, campaigned for me and went out to vote.”
Madam Kanneh said she has explicit confidence that the Supreme Court will be fair in its dealing with the matter and justice will prevail at the close of everything.
She contested as an independent candidate while her closest rival, Representative Koiwood contseted on the ticket of the ruling Coaltion for Democratic Change (CDC).
She did not mince her words while in an exclusive interview with the Daily Observer, more so by expressing confidently why she thinks now is the time to challenge the status quo.
Madam Weh, a former Superintendent of Nimba, contested as the lone female contender among over five men in Nimba County in the December 8 Special Senatorial election.
But in her own case, she complained to the NEC hearing office in Nimba that her supporters were intimidated by alleged militarized supporters of her opponent, Jeremiah Koung of District #1.
She said, as mentioned in her complaints still before the Board of Commissioners (BoC) of the NEC, there were fraud and irregularities, including alleged tampering with ballot boxes overnight by Jeremiah Koung’s camp in alleged cahoots with some election officers in the County.
“This is not just about me becoming a Senator but it is about the system. Things need to change if we should boast of having a credible electoral system in this country. Our democracy must be protected through good and credible actions in line with the law,” she said.
Madam Weh added: “I am not crying the wolf, wolf cry. I grew up in Nimba and I schooled there. My people know me because I have served them before and I was always in touch with the realities. There is so much missing in Nimba because of the gap in leadership. No woman Legislator, even though we have nine electoral districts and two Senate seats.”
“I am more educated, more experienced and more connected to our people than my opponent. To prove it, I won him in the very district he serves as a Representative. The records are there. I don’t have money like him but my people, out of love for me, have always contributed money and supported my political sojourn because they believe in me and trust me,” Weh boasted.
Edith Gongloe Weh contested on the ticket of the Collaborating Political Parties (CPP) while Koung contested on the ticket of the Movement for Democracy and Reconstruction (MDR) of former warlord Prince Y. Johnson, who is Senator, and the most influential politician in Nimba.