By Atty Philip N. Wesseh (PNW)
Many Liberians, especially residents of Monrovia who had been in fears that the polling of the just ended special senatorial election might not be peaceful because of many violent actions between supporters of George Weah of the Congress Democratic Change (CDC) and Mr. Robert Sirleaf, an independent candidate, are now in peace, after the polling ended peacefully in Montserrado County and other parts of the country.
Reports from the various counties, some of which have not been tensed like Montserrado County, also speak of how the process was peaceful without any serious incidents. Although there is no problem-free electoral process, reports indicate, on the aggregate, that it went well in the entire country.
It is common knowledge that prior to Saturday casting of ballots, tension built up because of allegations and suspicions regarding the conduct of the process. There were others who harbored the view that the process would not be free, fair and transparent, only because Mr. Sirleaf, son of the President, would be favored through fraudulent means, as the late Samuel K. Doe did during the 1985 general and presidential elections, for which, he was accused of rigging against the opposition candidate the late Jackson F. Doe of the then Liberian Action Party (LAP).
Noticeably, prior to Saturday’s polling, there were even allegations that there were attempts to assassinate Mr. Weah, something he also confirmed when this paper contacted him, few days after one of his officials Mulbah Morlu made the startling revelation. Besides, it was also alleged that candidate Sirleaf broke into a prison compound, freed inmates and armed them. All of these heightened tension, something which may have caused some eligible voters to stay away apart from the Ebola virus, as there was report of apathy in some centers.
Similarly, there was also report that one of the candidates in the race allegedly bribed one of the magistrates to manipulate results in favor of that particular candidate. Again, how could such have been done with representatives being in possession of the tally sheets with the results?
The suspicions and allegations that the process might not be free, fair and transparent led some 14 lawmakers to question the portion of the controversial Executive Order 65, which among other things say that there would be no protest 30 days after the results are announced. The suspicion of the lawmakers was not that it was possible that after a fraudulent result, the Order foresaw that there might be protest, for which the order was issued to curtail any protest action by would-be angry and aggrieved supporters of the losers. They said the order was done with sinister motive, especially for Montserrado County where the President’s son is contested.
In their protest, the 14 lawmakers said, it was quite suspicious that order no.65 deliberately and with sinister motives chose to antagonize only Montserrado County where the son of the President contesting and flagrantly violating the mandate of the Supreme Court and National Elections Commission with impunity.
Similarly on the issue of threat, one lawmaker who supported one of the candidates, sensing too that the process might not be credible, said that if such would be the case, they would resort to the kind of sustained protest action in Burkina Faso, in which the then President of that country, Blaise Compoare fled the country, thus giving way for a transitional government that is presently governing that country.
In the wake of those threats, suspicions, skepticisms and cynicisms, I remained optimistic that the process would be free, fair and transparent. I argued with those who believed that because the President’s son was in the race, it would produce a different result, other than what really transpired. This is why when I was in Grand Cape Mount County observing the process last Saturday, when I received a call that ballot papers were found in a taxi, I again expressed doubt, in that a taxi is not a polling center, and so there was no need to lend credence to such.
The doubts about the special senatorial election being conducted in a way and manner expected of it, became so profound that when the U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, during his one-day visit to Liberia last Friday and being fully aware of the level of threats and doubts, made a passionate plea to all Liberians to make sure that the election be “peaceful and objective.”
Today, I decided to on this piece to as a second piece in few days. Last week, I wrote another piece in which I pray that Liberians would make history with this special senatorial election because this is the first time in the chronicle of this country in its multiparty democracy. I said that if the process were to be a success, then, Liberians would make history. And so with the process being a success, I thought it wise to hail Liberians, NEC, IFES, USAID, European Union, UNMIL, civil society and others who helped in making the process a success.
As we await the announcement of the official results by NEC, let those who have any concerns on the protest follow the laid down procedures, rather than resorting to any act or action detrimental to peace and security.
Again, thank God and Liberians for making history. As I conclude, let me not be misconstrued that there were not problems. But all I can say that on the aggregate, as economists say, it went well, for which we must pat ourselves on the back.See You later as NEC begins announcing the official results.