ECC Alarms Over Gbarpolu Electoral Violence -Terms Harassment of Independent Candidate “Unacceptable”
Liberia remains a highly concentrated patriarchal society, so much so that the Senate has only had one female serving at that august body in the last 12 years.. But with the conduct of the just-ended senatorial elections, hopes were pinned on more females joining the Senate’s House of Elders, to augment the voice of Grand Bassa County Senator Nyonblee Karnataka-Lawrence and others. Fighting to join her colleague in the senate, Independent Gbarpolu senatorial Botoe Kanneh’s chances now seem dimmer, especially with reports of her harassment at the hands of traditional leaders reportedly acting on the orders of the CDC-led government to stop her participation in the midterm senatorial elections, as the Analyst reports on happenings in Gbarpolu.
According to a December 15, 2020 press statement from the Elections Coordinating Committee (ECC), the Civil society elections monitoring body strongly condemns the wave of electoral violence that is escalating in Electoral District 3, Gbarpolu County, linked to the conduct of the Special Senatorial Election (SSE).
This trend of violence, including the harassment and intimidation of a female candidate is unacceptable and a deliberate attempt to influence the outcome of the remaining election that is scheduled to take place in Norman Town, Precinct Number 45039, the ECC said.
“The ECC also frowns on the behavior of traditional leaders tempering with the conduct of an election which is constitutionally mandated and is concerned about the lack of action taken by the government to hold the Paramount Chief accountable. These lawless behaviors undermine the rule of law and have the propensity to reverse gains made in peace and democratic consolidation,” the local electoral monitoring body averred.
The ECC said, since Sunday, December 13, 2020 it has been receiving updates from Gbarpolu County, Electoral District 3 on constant wave of violence, intimidation and harassment of the Independent Candidate madam Botoe Kanneh who has since been arrested by armed men believed to be state securities base and her whereabouts remain unknown. In the same manner, the brother of Ms. Kanneh, Cllr. Boakai Kanneh was allegedly ordered beaten by the traditional group in Norman, Gbarpolu electoral district 3 where the election was expected to take place on today, Tuesday December 15, 2020.
“The National Elections Commission had earlier rescheduled this election from the official December 8, 2020 date due to seizure of the ballot box by the town chief of Norman. According to the ECC observer in the electoral district, a checkpoint has been erected at the entry of the town where the election was expected to take place on today intended to prevent candidates from entering to avoid undue tension. However, reports from ECC observers indicate that it is Candidate Kanneh and her supporters that being harassed by the traditional group and security officers,” the ECC stated.
The ECC therefore called on the government and the National Elections Commission to immediately investigate the situation and take concrete punitive actions against the perpetrators in keeping with law.
“The ECC also wishes to implore all state securities to demonstrate neutrality and professionalism in dealing with all electoral stakeholders and implore measures to prevent any further election related violence,” the release state.
About the ECC
The Elections Coordinating Committee (ECC) is a civil society platform, comprising six (6) organizations that observe elections in Liberia. The members include: Center for Democratic Governance (CDG); Center for Media Studies and Peace Building (CEMESP); Institute for Research and Democratic Development (IREDD); Naymote Partners for Democratic Development (NAYMOTE-PADD); West Africa Network for Peace Building (WANEP), and the Women’s NGO Secretariat of Liberia (WONGOSOL).
The ECC works in partnership with the National Democratic Institute (NDI) with funding from USAID.