10 October 2017

Liberia: Protest Disrupts Voting Process in Bong but Police Restore Calm

Photo: Boakai Fofana/AllAfrica
A woman casts her ballot at a polling center situated on Monrovia's Tubman blvd

The voting process inBong County Electoral District #5 came to a standstill for few hours following a protest by some voters claiming that they were denied their right to vote because their names cannot be seen on NEC's final voter registration roll.

The voting exercise which started on a smooth footing on Tuesday morning at 8:00 was disrupted when tens of voters who felt disillusioned took to the main road of Gbartala by setting road block preventing vehicles from entering and leaving the town.

According to some of the protesters, their names and identification numbers cannot be found on the Final Voter Registration Roll (FVRR), something they felt they were denied, adding, the only way we would cast our vote was to take to the street to claim the authority concern attention.

Speaking to the Daily Observer, the Commander of the Liberia National Police Bong County Detachment, Inspector Frederick Nepay, said no one was wounded in the process and there was no arrest made.

Inspector Nepay told this paper that the disruption of voting at the David Faijue Public School was the work of people he termed as "hoodlums" and said police was able to curtail disband the protest.

The local police Inspector further said his command was prepared to deal with anyone who attempts to cause any breach of the peace while the process of voting lasts.

"With our vigilance and commitment to ensure peaceful conduct of the exercise, we are very happy that there is peace and there is no significant case and we will sustain the peace and effective security till the end and even after the entire electoral process" Inspector Nepay vowed.

He this paper that calm has returned to Gbartala and the voting process has also resumed following few hours of interruption by fuming protesters.

In Gbarnga and its satellite villages the voting process started with no report of violence and there was gigantic turnout in Bong County.

It was observed by this reporter that voters at the Nathaniel Varney Massaquoi High School and the William V. S. Tubman-Gray United Methodist High School in Gbarnga experienced similar situation that their names and identification numbers were not on the FRR but they were advised by poll workers to exercise patience as they will be permitted to vote once their specifics are recorded.

People whose names were not found on the FRR at these centers in Gbarnga, it was established by this paper that their particulars were recorded on a separate sheet and were allowed to exercise their democratic right.

In Bong County there was no report of polling places opening late but voters who spoke with this paper indicated that the voting process was slow due to the misplacement of names.

It was established that some voters whose names were not found on the FRR would not hold their perseverance to wait but left the polling places as a result of frustration.

As the result of the high anticipation among voters in Gbarnga, businesses were all closed including commercial motor cycles and vehicles.

"I just want all people voting, to vote peacefully and go home. When the results come out we will support the person who will win and I say peace because Liberia was here before and it will be here after the elections" says Madam Korto Flomo a middle aged woman.

In Gbarnga polling places officially opened at 8:00 a.m. and some voters told the Daily Observer that they arrived at polling centers as early as 3:00 a.m., several hours before the centers opened and waited in queue in the dark until the polls were opened for them to cast their votes.

International and local observers are in Bong County monitoring the elections.

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