‘CRYING FOUL’…Unity Party Says Lofa Senatorial Election was Marred By Irregularities

By: Jerromie S. Walters

Broad Street, Monrovia: Opposition Unity Party (UP) has condemned the conduct of the just ended Lofa county senatorial By-Election, noting that it was marred by irregularities.

Addressing a news conference on Tuesday, July 5, 2022, at the party’s headquarters on Broad Street, Amb Joseph Nyuma Boakai highlighted pre election malpractices, election day malpractices, as well as post election malpractices, which he believed was exercised during the process with the consent of National Election Commission (NEC)

UP candidate Galakpai Kortima was flogged by Independent Candidate supported by the Ruling Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) Cllr. Joseph Jallah in the just ended By-election. The NEC has declared Cllr. Jallah winner of the election and urged disenchanted parties to proceed to court over frauds or dissatisfaction over the results as it is their right to do so.

Flagging the pre election malpractices, the UP standard bearer said during the period leading to the campaign, the National Elections Commission conducted the replacement of lost and damaged voter registration cards only in Voinjama and Kolahun and did not include the other three electoral districts, resulting to huge invalid voting cards in the election.

“At the time, we demanded that the National Elections Commissions extend the exercise throughout the county to allow full participation. This demand was not heard and that action resulted into many Lofains not being able to participate in the electoral process. There has been no justification for this action from the NEC. The independent Election Coordinating Committee (ECC) has also highlighted this in their report. We believe this selective replacement of VR CARDS only in two districts leaving out the others disenfranchised many other legitimate voters in Lofa County,” he stressed.

On the other hand, the UP alleged that their poll watchers also observed that selective voters with no voter registration cards were allowed to vote, which they said resulted in inflation of the number of votes and made the elections unfair in at least thirty percent of the polling places.

“We also observed vote buying on elections day. Some politicians were interfering with the elections by offering to pay voters who took pictures of their votes and presented them as evidence of how they voted. This act is illegal and we call on the authorities to immediately investigate this and bring the perpetrators to justice,” Amb Boakai said, vowing the party’s cooperation.

Referencing the post election malpractice (s), Amb Boakai said following the publication of the preliminary result on Thursday, June 30, 2022, on the National Elections Commission website, several discrepancies were discovered including Foya Market Hall in District 1, where votes were doubled thereby presenting more votes per candidate than the total number of registered voters.

He also said that results posted from many of the centers had candidates Joseph Kpator Jallah and Mariamu Fofana names appearing at least two times each and showing that they had gotten different vote totals at the same polling place.

In addition, the UP alleged that Candidates who contested in previous elections were also listed as having won votes in these elections even though they did not participate. Some candidates from 2020 were listed, and in one instance a candidate from 2011 was also listed.

“Following an immediate highlighting on social media of the unimaginable results posted by the Elections Commission on its website by our Technical Team and the resulting public outcry by Liberians in and out of Liberia, the National Elections Commission quickly shut down its website to the public. Hours later when the website was restored, we saw that different results were posted. The NEC would later inform the public that there were attempts to hack its website,” he intruded.

The former Vice President continued, “To ensure transparency, election results should be disaggregated to enable the key stakeholders to obtain comprehensive information regarding the process. The bulk result announced by the NEC is a clear indication that there were somethings going on that were unusual. This is made more evident by the fact that the commission has up to fifteen days to announce the result. That is sufficient to make the announcement in detail as to polling place and number of votes per candidate”.

Moreover, the Unity Party added that they have observed that the numbers published by the elections commission do not add up and that the totals and the percentages are not making sense.

“We are grately troubled by the NEC statement that there were attempts to hack its website beginning on the 30th of June when as a matter of fact the elections results were announced after this date. Was the hacking successful? Or was there any hacking at all? These are legitimate questions that we asked in light of all the things that have been done in these elections. We submit to you, fellow Liberians, that what was posted by the Commission on its website was the product of NEC itself and these efforts are geared towards changing the results of the election,” Amb Joseph Nyuma Boakai added.

At the same time, the Party believes the various malpractices exhibited by the Commission are deliberate violations that clearly cast doubts on the validity of the results announced by the National Elections Commission and undermine the sanctity, credibility and integrity of the votes cast in Lofa County on June 28, 2022.

The Unity Party and her allies have considered the reported violations seriously as they believe the people of Lofa county deserve better than what they described as an irregular and mistake-prone process presided over by National Elections Commission.

“In view of the foregoing, the Unity Party and its allies are convinced that the current Elections Commission is not representative of the people’s interest and should therefore be scrapped and replaced by a competent and partisan free NEC to prepare for 2023 general and presidential elections. Our country has come through so much and cannot continue to trade peace with a disorderly election”.

The UP however called on it’s partisans, the United Nations, the United States of America, the European Union, the African Union, ECOWAS, and all friends of Liberia to join them in ensuring that the current NEC leadership is replaced.

As there was a crew of security personnel who went to ensure the security of the process in LOFA, the former ruling establishment asserted that the manner in which AFL officers conducted themselves was intimidating to the local people and it resulted in many voters shying away from the polls.

“Again, we point to the abuse of power by those in authority with the intent to impact the elections. The heavy presence of armed men was unprecedented and unnecessary and in our opinion only used to intimidate voters. We call on the authorities to justify this abuse of power,” the Unity Party standard bearer explained.

It can be recalled that on Friday July 1, 2022, the National Elections Commission (NEC) declared Independent candidate Joseph Jallah as the winner of the Lofa County senatorial by-election, with Cllr Joseph Jallah winning a total of 22,019 votes constituting 36. 6%.

The commission’s result showed Mr Galakpai Kortimai of the Unity Party at the second place, with a total of 21,229 constituting 35.15%.

However, critics have seen the lost of Unity Party in Lofa, as a clearer picture of their weakness, and inability to singlehandedly win the 2023 general election.

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