The Senatorial mid-term election has ended across the country peacefully with the National Elections Commission (NEC) still counting ballots and preparing to finalize its report.
As the preliminary results stand to date, most of the incumbent senators might not return to the Liberian Senate and their services to the people during their nine years’ tenure could have been some of the reasons why there were poor and slow turn out at most of the precinct centers. Those to get the blessing to form part of the county’s leaderships are expected to be inducted by January when the incumbents shall have all declared their seats vacant and all incoming senators along with the senators of the second category shall all now be qualified to serve a term of nine years, Article 46 of Liberia’s Constitution requires.
Meanwhile, a team of Inquirer reporters who were accredited to observe the just ended special election visited several voting precinct centers across the country. In Montserrado County where several Voting Precincts were visibly empty, all the necessary Ebola preventive measures given by the Health Ministry and it partners were observed by voters and polling staffs.
Unlike the peaceful turnout, there were some obvious isolated cases observed during the process; for example at the Calvary Temple Assembly of God Mission in Jacob Town, a particular situation erupted where a 35-year old man was accused of casting his vote earlier by the polling officers and that caused a serious pandemonium between the poll watchers and the young man who had gone to cast his vote.
Also another young man was observed to be showing the signs and symptoms of Ebola and with all measures in place, members of the Liberian National Red Cross intervened immediately and took him away. As reports stand across Montserrado County, the Congress for Democratic Change (CDC) senatorial candidate, George Manneh Weah might emerge as winner as the Independent candidate, Robert Alvin Sirleaf is snail-trailing closely behind in the vote counts.
Besides the peaceful manner the electorates conducted themselves, it was also observed that at some polling centers names of some electorates who registered and voted at those centers in 2011 were left out even though their cards were valid hence the polling officers had no option but to place their names on the voters’ listing using ink.
The incumbent senator, Jewel Howard Taylor, described as the county’s iron lady who is the only female contesting against 12 men to regain her position as a senator of Bong Countyis said to be taking the lead in the process in that part of the country.
In Gbarnga, as in other places across the country, there was a low turnout but in the outskirt of Gbarnga people turned out to cast their votes even though polling centers in places like the William V.S. Tubman Grey High School and the Sunday Market Place in Gbarnga were empty manned by polling staffs, parties’ representatives, health workers and police officers.
It was also observed that one of the candidates, Dr. Togba, who is the president of the Cuttington University did not part take in the just ended voter’s registration process and was therefore prevented from casting his vote but this did not discourage his supporters who turned out to vote him referring to him as the true son of the soil.
In the Harbel, Margibi belt, almost all precinct centers were glaringly empty as poll watchers and political observers waited only to see voters slowly turning out to cast their ballot while other registered voters stood around the centers with their voter’s card and expressed their unwillingness to vote because according to them, the incumbents failed to touch the lives of those who elected them but were only enriching themselves.
Poll watchers were also disappointed in the way the National Elections Commission conducted itself in preparing for the process. Even though belated, the election workers said they were robbed of their just benefits and observed that the amount given to those in Montserrado County was not the same as those in other counties and wondered why there were so much disparity in the wages; complaining how they were not even given per diems for feeding.
They called on the NEC to give the full wages as promised to them during the workshop conducted before they started the process. Meanwhile, as observed during the process, with the Ebola virus still in Liberia, the temperatures of the voters who turned out at most of the centers were not tested.
In Nimba County, the special Senatorial election kicked off on time at the various polling centers in the commercial City of Ganta with six candidates in the race and they were the incumbent Senator Prince Johnson, Edith Gongloe Weh, Dr. Peter Wearto, Dr. Joseph Korto, General John Teah, and Cllr. Yarmie Quoiquoi Gbelsaye.
During the tour at the 11 polling centers in Ganta, Senator Johnson topped the 11 polling centers in Ganta with Cllr. Gbelsaye next to him and followed by Madam Gongloe Weh while report also from the GbelayGeh District is that Senator Johnson again is in the lead at all the centers in that district followed closely by Cllr.Gbelsaye and Madam Gongloe Weh.
Other candidates like Dr. Wearto. Mr.Teah, and Dr.Korto are the least among the 6 candidates in all the polling centers in the county.
Prior to the elections, Charles Walker Brumskine of Grand Bassa County condemned any act of violence in any form in the country especially in Grand Bassa County. “We all know too well that the blind ambition of some politicians and their political parties, after losing presidential elections in 1985 and 1997, resulted into extraordinary violence being introduced into our body politics, the consequences from which we are yet to recover,” he said.
Meanwhile, the race for the only senatorial seat in Grand Bassa County was indeed peaceful but to the amazement of political observers it took another trend as contesting Senate Pro-tempore, Gbehnzohngar M. Findley who had boasted of nine years of campaigning might bid farewell to his position.
Liberty Party candidate, Jonathan Kaipay has taken an early lead over Senator Findley and unofficial reports from nearly all of the districts in Grand Bassa County have put the LP man in the forefront over all of his contenders including the President Pro-tempore of the Liberian Senate.
Up to press time, Mr. Kaipay was still leading with wide margins over Independent Candidate Findley while Representative Gabriel Smith, another Independent candidate was trailing far behind Mr. Kaipay.
The INQUIRER team also covered the election in Bomi and Grand Cape Mount Counties and observed that the process started early and steadily while supporters of the various candidates voted peacefully even though some voting precincts were empty but some people went later to cast their votes in the afternoon.
The team from Bomi proceeded to Grand Cape Mount and also noticed that the process was conducted orderly in a congenial atmosphere, and in Robertsport the team met and chatted with Cllr. Varney G. Sherman who expressed optimism about the process and reports coming in indicate that he is seriously in the lead.