In District #15 Disputed Centers: NEC Orders Rerun But CDC Excepts

In District #15 Disputed Centers: NEC Orders Rerun But CDC Excepts

The National Elections Commission (NEC) through its Dispute Hearing Office has ordered rerun into six polling precincts, which constitute 20 polling centers in the just ended Montserrado County Electoral District #15 Representative by-election.

It could be recalled that complaints of electoral irregularities and fraud were filed against NEC by Madam Telia Urey and Bishop Slebo Frank, two of the Representative candidates who contested in the recent Representative by-election held in Montserrado electoral District #15.

Madam Urey contested the poll on the ticket of the All Liberian Party (ALP) backed by the other three collaborating opposition political parties, including the Alternative National Congress (ANC) former ruling Unity Party (UP) and the Liberty Party (LP). On the other hand, Bishop Frank contested the race as an independent candidate.

As result of the complaints filed, the NEC immediately quarantined the six polling precincts (20 voting centers), but Madam Urey contended that those quarantined areas’ voted were being considered by the Commission in the counting process.

Through her lawyers, the ALP prayed the Commission for a rerun of the entire District #15 Election.

During the hearing, Madam Urey produced 20 witnesses, but only 17 were allowed to testify, while the NEC produced four witnesses. The ruling Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) did not produce any witness as it served as an interest party to the case.

Accordingly, while delivering the ruling on Wednesday, August 13, 2019, the Chief Dispute Hearing Officer of NEC, Cllr. Muana S. Ville, adjudged that the election be rerun in the six disputed areas because there was no sufficient evidence to nullify the entire result of the district.

He asserted that during the investigation, it was gathered that indeed quarantined votes were compromised and that even a recount was not enough to remedy the situation at hand.

“It is our consideration that the quarantined votes have been compromised and any attempt to include said votes will undermine the principle of transparency and the core value of the National Elections Commission,” said Cllr. Ville.
“This conduct is so wrong that even a recount of votes, [is] not a remedy, because the votes in question have no consequence on the ballot boxes, the conduct occurred at the tally center,” he asserted.

He said Complainant Urey has failed to prove that irregularities and fraud occurred as she alleged to warrant the nullification of the entire result.

However, he said because the votes from the quarantined areas were compromised, thus hampering the credibility of the Commission, there is a need for a rerun in those troublesome areas within 10 days’ period.

“The complainant had requested that the commission nullify the entire result of District 15 and order a rerun. But the Hearing Officers are not convinced that the complainant has not established and proven that irregularities and fraud were so wide spread to warrant the nullification of the entire result,” he stated.

“Since we have heard that the votes from the quarantined areas have been compromised, and said votes lower the credibility standards set by the NEC, we therefore mandate a rerun to be conducted at the six quarantined precincts by respondents National Elections Commission,” Cllr. Ville announced.

He said the ruling does not only favor the complainants, but also Mr. Abu Kamara, whose votes were hampered by said action.

However, the lead lawyer representing the legal interest of Mr. Kamara, Atty. Kunkun Yon Wleh Teh, took an exception to the ruling, stressing that the CDC will forward the matter to the Board of Commission of the NEC.

The Board of Commission, which comprises all seven Commissioners, is the highest decision making body of the NEC.

At the same time, the CDC through its National Chairman, Mr. Mulbah K. Morlu, pointed out that the case was biasedly adjudged by the Commission, stressing that the CDC will not accept this.

Speaking at a news conference minutes after the pronouncement by the Commission, Morlu contended that the ruling by the NEC is intended to please people who are the “haters” of the CDC and government.

“This biased proceeding of NEC under Korkoya is not acceptable. They want to plunge the country into chaos. This is intended to please people who are the haters or our party and this government, but they will not succeed with this one,” Morlu asserted.

“Our rights are being trampled upon. There are enemies and haters who are working against us every day, who are working in this government. We will not accept this,” he asserted.

He urged President George Manneh Weah to ensure that enemies within the rank and file of the government be booted out and replaced by “CDCians”, who will support the President’s vision.

“It is time for the President to listen to the party. This is the party that made him and we know that he will listen to us,” he added.

Prior to her complaints, provisional results were being released by the NEC, with statistics showing that the ALP candidate was leading the poll with a total of 5,573 votes or 42.68 percent of the total votes counted, while CDC candidate Kamara obtained 5,417 votes which constitute 41.48 percent of the total ballots counted.

Both the Senatorial and Representative By-elections were prompted by the deaths of Senator Geraldine Doe- Sheriff, who succumb to cancer, and Representative Adolph Lawrence who died in a tragic car crash along the Monrovia-Robertsfield Highway.

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