Home Africa Liberia: Gbarpolu – Paramount Chief Not Held Accountable for Election Violence and Threats

Liberia: Gbarpolu – Paramount Chief Not Held Accountable for Election Violence and Threats

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Uncertainty and anxiety looms in Gbarpolu County over the recently held Special Senatorial Election on December 8, which remain unconcluded as of December 22.

The elections in Gbarpolu hang in uncertainty after a local paramount chief in Normondatonu, Chief McgillWleh, confiscated the ballot boxes on the morning on the elections, leaving voters stranded. His justification was that he believed citizens from Sierra Leone planned to cross the border and vote in Liberian elections, an information that has not been proved to be real.

Law enforcement arrested seven, however, the Paramount Chief remains untouched.

The National Elections Commission (NEC) tried to organize a rerun on December 15, but that plan was aborted following more violence on December 14, during which supporters of Independent candidate, KannehBotoe and locals in Normondatonu clashed in multiple acts of violence that targeted NEC staff as well.

Alleged Sierra Leonean citizens with voter’s registration cards for Liberian elections. Photo taken on Dec. 15, 2020 in Nomodatanau town, Kongba District, Gbarpolucounty, Liberia. Photo Credit: Solomon By D. Solomon Tayblah

Following renewed violence on December 14, town residents and supporters of KannehBotoe took refuge in the bush when the local town chiefs brought out the “country devil,” also known as the chief of the Poro secret society.

Security forces deployed and assured people to return to their home while the NEC takes time to set up a new date for the election rerun.

KannehBotoe, who ran as Independent, is opposed by ruling Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) Candidate, incumbent Representative Alfred G. Koiwood who is seeking to transition into the Senate.

Preliminary results released by the NEC put Kanneh, a businesswoman trading dried meat goods, in the lead with a total of 4,767 votes, representing 25.79% of the total valid votes, followed by Rep. Alfred GayflorKoiwood with 4,281 votes, representing 23.16%.

Women leaders and campaigners have condemned what they see as a “hijack” of the poll by local chiefs because they did not agree that the voting results are not in favor of the ruling party candidate.

In fact, based on official NEC data, ruling party candidates have performed extremely poorly with the voters, with just 4 seats confirmed out of the 15 that were in play. The majority of the seats were won by the CPP with 6 seats out of 15.