Election Violence Overwhelms Gbarpolu -Lead Candidate Abducted? Supporters Fled

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The leading candidate for the Senatorial Seat of Gbarpolu County, Madam Botoe Kanneh is said to have been abducted to an unknown destination by some unidentified persons as a town Chief reportedly chased her and her supporters out of a voting Precinct, but another Senatorial candidate Prof. Aklaric Tokpa says the situation in the hard-to-reach and fearful Gbarpolu forest is fast eroding what many people consider to be recent gains in the democratic process

Mr. Tokpa said the attack should alarm all because it is taking place in a very remote region where there is no telephone coverage, internet service or radio station.”  Prof. Tokpa said further “It is alleged that some have been brutalized (i.e. Cllr. Boakai Kanneh) and/or killed, while others like Cllr. Aloysius Toe have been arrested and charged with “espionage.

Tension have been mounting in Gbarpolu County leading to the postponement of the Midterm Senatorial elections in the county as reports from Bopolu speaks of the abduction of the lead candidate in  the elections, Independent Candidate  Botoe Kanneh while pursuing her supporters that fled into the bushes.

Other reports have said state security forces have arrested arrest of several persons in connection to the situation in Gbarpolu.

According to reports, Madam Kanneh whereabouts is yet unknown since yesterday when she and her supporters were chased from entering a town the election was supposed to be held, but some of her supporters who called on local radio stations in Monrovia from their hideout admitted that the were chased into the bushes by a Town Chief who used traditional Masked people usually called “country devils” from their local Poro Society with intention of preventing them from campaigning, while other candidates were reportedly campaigning in the area.

Addressing the press last Wednesday, the 9th of December, NEC chairperson Davidette Browne Lansanah, announced the hold of the election in Nomodatonau Town, Gbarpolu County and other places in Nimba and Grand Gedeh Counties yesterday, the 15 of December

It was said the some youth on the instruction of the Town chief seized some ballot boxes, a situation which caused the postponement of the December 8th process in Gbarpolu. The reports indicated that the youth’s action was precipitated on suspicion that Sierra Leoneans crossed the border to Gbarpolu and were participating in the process,

But NEC Chairperson Lansanah told a press conference yesterday that the National Elections Commission rescheduled of election in part of Gbarpolu County where voting did not take place Tuesday, December 8, as a result of the violent situation which also could not allow the process to take place on the rescheduled date of Tuesday, December 15.

The electoral governing body said it is challenged to conduct the election in the county due to current tension brewing amongst supporters of candidates, which has compelled Election Staffers to withdraw from the county to Monrovia.

According the NEC Chairperson, the National Election Commission cannot account for one of its staff, saying some of them have returned but they are traumatized to give any reports.

Reports says the traditional people have put their country devil outside to obstruct the women from participating in the process at the time a female independent Candidate Botoe Kanneh is in the lead with 4,767 accounting for 25.79%; followed by the CDC’s Koiwood, Alfred Gayflor with 4,281 amounting to 23.16% .and Taweh, III, Boimah Quaye of the United People’s Party (UPP) with 2,661 accounting for 14.39%

However, NEC Chairperson Lansanah told journalists in Monrovia that security forces have moved in to ensure that the environment is safe enough to conduct elections.

The NEC chairperson at the same time assured that the NEC will work with local authorities to ensure the smooth conduct of the elections in the county.

She added that the National Elections Commission will work within the 15 day provided for by law and ensure that the final results are announced.

The places in contention in Gbarpolu County, according to the NEC chairperson Lansanah, is in Electoral District #3 at Nomodatunon Town Hall with precinct code 45039 comprising of four polling places with 2, 021 registered voters. she said, did not open because “The Town chief seized the ballot boxes there by denying registered voters of exercising their franchises”, adding that an assessment team has been dispatched to ascertain the situation.

Also in Monrovia, the Communication officer of the Liberia Immigration Service (LIS), Abraham Dorley confirmed that some 30 persons have been arrested in Gbarpolu in connection with Electoral Violence.

Officer Dorley said the Liberia Immigration Service, having the statutory mandate to keep Liberia’s border security, effected the arrest in keeping with the Mandate.

“Information gathered from our intelligence officers states that there were foreign nationals, to be precise, Sierra Leoneans wanting to vote into our election process. So the Commissioner General, Col. Robert W. Buddy set up a team [of officers] to buttress the [immigration] command structure within Gbarpolu County,” the LIS communication officer disclosed.

Mr. Dorley also indicated that while in Gbarpolu, the LIS officers apprehended 30 persons and some of those 30 persons were involved in electoral violence.

He further explained that some of those 30 persons were individuals that seized the ballot papers and have them destroyed yesterday, adding that some of those arrested were found with double registration cards belonging to same centers with the same names and same pictures.

“Some were also arrested for having Sierra Leonean National ID cards as well as Liberia National ID cards and some with Liberian voter registration cards and Sierra Leonean voters’ registration cards,” he said.

According to him, the Commissioner General has instructed an Immigration Senior Inspector to work with the Local County administrators such as the County Attorney and the local NEC Magistrate to see how best they can have these individuals investigates and prosecuted.

Meanwhile, one of the Senatorial Candidates in the county, Prof. Alaric Tokpa, speaking on the situation says “Democracy is under Severe Attack in Liberia”

In a dispatch to The Analyst was concern about the whereabouts Aloysius Toe, Boakai Kanneh of the ANC and his fellow constestant, Madam Botoe Kanneh

“Where are Aloysius Toe, Boakai Kanneh and Sister Botoe Kanneh? We are informed that human rights activists, lawyers, political party leaders, opposition candidate, election workers and other citizens are disappearing in the Gbarpolu forest,” Prof. Tokpa said.

He called on the people of Liberia to work together to save the good name of our democracy and government for once, saying that “Even threat to one Liberian life is too much for us to bear at this time.”

“Fellow Liberians, credible information about the premeditated attack on human rights activists, lawyers, political party leaders and opposition field workers (including Aloysius Toe, Boakai Kanneh and the female senatorial contestant, Botoe Kanneh) in the hard-to-reach and fearful Gbarpolu forest is fast eroding what many people consider to be recent gains in the democratic process.

“This unsolitated attack should alarm all because it is taking place in a very remote region where there is no telephone coverage, internet service or radio station.”

Prof. Tokpa said “It is alleged that some have been brutalized (i.e. Cllr. Boakai Kanneh) and/or killed, while others like Cllr. Aloysius Toe have been arrested and charged with “espionage.

“It is time we all stand up for democracy in every part of Liberia in spite of political party facilitation. The George Weah CDC government and any side responsible will have to account for every life that has been threatened in Gbarpolu County during this senatorial election period.” he asserted.

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