In an earlier editorial we described the mid-term senatorial election held two weeks ago as the most peaceful since Liberia’s return to democratic rule in 2006.
We contrasted this last gone election to the past two major ones, the first in 2005 and the second in 2011, both of which were heatedly contested and disputed. In both elections—2005 and 2011—the main opposition Congress for Democratic Change (CDC) vigorously contested the run-off outcome, in which the Unity Party’s Ellen Johnson Sirleaf was declared the winner. It took a considerable amount of political and diplomatic pressure to get the CDC to concede defeat.
The scenario was somewhat different this time around. The December 20, 2014 senatorial election in all 15 counties, though marked by low voter turnout due mostly to Ebola fear, was remarkably peaceful and orderly. There was a full line-up of candidates’ representatives at every single poll—people who were cautious, circumspect, sober and watchful. The same was true at the counting centers, where poll watchers were attentive and observant, to ensure that the process was free of any kind of mistake, misdemeanor or fraud.
The result was that even as the counting progressed, showing how leading candidates in the various counting centers took early leads and went running with them, it became clear to the losing ones, their partisans and representatives, that the long night was not theirs, but belonged to others.
Even before most people went to bed they knew who had won and who had lost in the various counties.
With only a few exceptions, many defeated candidates across the country immediately recognized their fate and not long thereafter called their victorious opponents to concede defeat.
Probably the most prominent candidate to concede defeat was the controversial independent, Robert Sirleaf, son of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, who came second to the popular football superstar George Weah in the Montserrado senatorial race. Mr. Sirleaf went beyond congratulating victorious Mr. Weah, commending the National Elections Commission (NEC) for what he called “the smooth conduct of the election.”
The defeated senatorial candidate for Maryland County, incumbent John Ballout, also congratulated the winner, former Maryland Superintendent J. Gbleh-bo Brown.
River Gee senatorial winner Conmany B. Wesseh has received at least two concessions, one from former Superintendent Daniel Johnson and A. Nyepan Saytue. And unconfirmed sources say that runner-up Boy Charles Soigbai over the weekend also conceded defeat.
In Bong County, most of the opponents of incumbent Senator Jewel Howard Taylor have acknowledged that she won the election. Likewise in Nimba County most of the opponents to the political behemoth (monstrous power) incumbent Senator Prince Johnson, have conceded defeat and pledged to work with him for the development of their county.
These concessions are heartwarming because they confirm the efficacy (efficiency) of the December 20 elections.
Yet there are a few defeated candidates, notably Dr. Henrique Tokpa of Bong County and Bhofal Chambers of Maryland, who are contesting the elections, contending that there was fraud.
This is entirely within their constitutional right to do. We hope that all defeated candidates who are contesting the elections will follow the advice of the Election Coordinating Committee (ECC) and carefully detail their complaints and expeditiously submit them to the National Elections Commission for speedy redress, so that the country may move on.
Overall, we commend NEC Chairman Korkoyah and his fellow Commissioners and staff as well as the Liberian electorate, who followed all the rules, not only those that governed the electoral process but also those that were put into place to prevent the spread of the deadly Ebola virus.
Those, including the Daily Observer, who advocated that the elections proceed to avoid a constitutional crisis, are thankful to the good Lord that our courage and optimism paid off and now the full Senate can convene on the second Monday in January. At that time the Senators, along with Members of the House of Representatives, will convene in joint session to hear and receive the President’s Annual Message.
The final and most important point we wish to make in this Editorial is to warn the newly elected Senators that they are entering a highly questionable environment, whose members always placed SELF before country. In the Legislature there is very little that gets done without illicit money changing hands.
Please be different. Your people elected you to stand up for God and country, not for yourselves.