Ripples of Gbarpolu Electoral Violence -Town Chief Blames Ballot Seizure on Paramount Chief

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Former Senate Pro-Tempore and defeated candidate Of Armah Zolu Jallah of the People’s Unification Party (PUP) says there is no need for National Election Commission (NEC) to conduct another round of polling after the December 8th election, indicates that any polling conducted for the 2020 midterm senatorial elections after December 8, 2020 is illegal, as a local town chief confirmed seizure of ballot boxes by a paramount chief.

Although he could not called the name of the Paramount Chief, the local town Chief who identified himself as Stanley Ford says they have been harassed in Gbarpolu by state security forces. The Town Chief who said he is from another town near the surrounding of the contentious Nomodatonau Town in Gbarpolu County said police of the ERU and some immigration offices entered his town and held them under gunpoint.

The Town chief explained on a local talk show yesterday that stated that security operatives went in the tow shouting “Government interest! Interest!” As what they security people meant by saying “Government interest,” he declined knowledge.  He said the men don’t knowing what government interest is supposed to mean fled into the bushes and made their way to nearby villages, living back their wives, majority of who are baby mothers.

“They put us at gun point, opened our doors and looted our belongings,” Town Chief explained to a panel of journalists on the talk-show. He said he was sitting with some other three men from his town who fled the invasion by the state Security.

Asked whether he has knowledge of the seized ballot boxes, Chief Ford explained that his knowledge is limited to knowing that the ballot boxes were seized by his senior official, a Paramount Chief in the area the election was held. He also admitted that the Paramount Chief put out the “Country devil’, and therefore disrupted the voting process.

Meanwhile, Former Gbarpolu County Senator Jallah has introduced a legal argument, said conduct of another round of polling after the December 8th election is illegal. He said it was against the backdrop of this that he conceded to Madam Botoe who is ahead of all the candidates contesting the Senate4 seat for Gbarpolu. Jallah said the legislative resolution by which the 2020 Midterm Senatorial election was scheduled for December 8, this year did not give room for the continuation of the holding of the election after December 8,2020, adding that NEC’s results should be announced those votes of those who were opportune to vote on the election.

Senator Jallah said NEC has no right legally and Constitutionally to arrogate upon itself the power to act beyond the legislative resolution that schedule the elections at December 8, 2020, noting that doing so is illegal and that such results could be contested.

“As a lawyer, this is what I legally see and that the NEC is supposed to work in line with the resolution that gives it the authority to do so.”

But a legal practitioner, Atty. Lamii Kpargoi said Mr. Jallah is in error. He said running the polls to problem areas was never to mean that the election date violated. “If anyone should violate election date, it should be the Legislature. They have done that a number of time, for instance in 2014 etc.”

1986 Constitution of Liberia, Article 93(a) “Voting for the President, Vice President, members of the Senate and members of the House of Representatives shall be conducted throughout the Republic on the second Tuesday in October of each election year,”  Atty. Kpargoi said the Constitution noted.

Official NEC results thus far put Madam Botoe Kanneh, an independent candidate in the lead with 4,767 relating 25.79%; followed by Alfred Gayflor Koiwood of the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) with 4,281 accounting for 23.16%; and Boimah Quaye Taweh, III, of the United People’s Party (UPP) with 2,66amounting to 14.39%.

Other results in Gbarpolu are Armah Zolu Jallah of the (PUP) accumulating 1,965 amounting to 10.63%;, Paul Koulboi Kennedy (LINU) ,1,621 or 8.77%;  John Kerkula Benda, Sr. of the Liberia Transformation Party (LTP), 1,407 accounting for 7.61%; Sam Kamara Zinnah  of the Collaborating Political Parties (CPP) with 1,162 equivalent to 6.29%;  Allen M. Gbowee, of the Movement for Progressive Change (MPC) with 394 amounting to 2.13% and Alaric K. Tokpa, (NDC) 229  or 1.24%.

Total Valid are 18,487, Total Invalid       votes are 1,502 and total vote cast amounts to 19,989 amounting to 100.00%

In a related development, Murphy Kanneh, a brother of Madam Botoe Kanneh has said that Botoe and her Brother Bioma Kenneh and Aloysius Toe of the African National Congress with along with others people have been attacked and brutalized with their phones seized in Gbarpolu.

Although Murphy could not say with exactitude the situation that have attended them, he said he was seeking the opportunity to talk with Botoe and Boima to hear what the actual situation was, and that he would hold a press conference thereafter.

Cllr. Kanneh said he it was unfortunate that the two Kanneh and supporters of his sister Botoe were mal-treated.

The latest report from the county confirmed that Madam Botoe Kanneh’s whereabouts is yet unknown as a result of an attack on her 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.

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