6 August 2018

Liberia: Election - Jospeh, Tokpa Replace Weah, Taylor At Senate

Representative Saah Hardy Joseph of Montserrado County Electoral District #13 and Dr. Henrique Flomo Tokpa, former Internal Affairs Minister and son of Bong County, have secured their victories from the July 31 Senatorial By-elections and, as announced by the National Elections Commission, will become the successors of George Manneh Weah and Jewel Howard Taylor, who both are now President and Vice President of Liberia respectively.

As preliminary results from the 2,292 polling places from Bong and Montserrado counties showed earlier, Joseph and Tokpa each maintained a compelling lead and have each comfortably secured their respective spots at the Senate, where they will serve until 2023.

Tokpa emerged victorious with 27,806 votes or 47.0 percent, more than 10 percentage points ahead of his closest rival, Representative Josiah Marvin Cole, was paraded through the streets of Gbarnga and far flung areas of Bong County by VP Taylor during a month-long campaign. He contested the 2014 mid-term Senatorial Election and is said to have been neck to neck with Taylor but conceded defeat after contentious court proceedings and closed door negotiations with former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.

This time around, he defeated Cole, who managed to get 35.4 percent of the valid votes cast. Fairnoh Theo Gbilah of (VOLT), Orando Koimene Zarwolo and Prince Togar Kollie emerged with 5,556 or 9.4 percent, 3,504 or 5.9 percent and 1,346 or 2.3 percent respectively.

From the results reported by NEC, a total number of 60,463 voters cast their votes and, of that amount, 59,194 votes were valid while 1,269 votes were invalid.

In Montserrado County, Rep. Joseph of the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) acquired 67,793 votes or 54.8 percent as compared to his closest rival, Bernard DJ Blue Benson's (an independent candidate) 25,237 or 20.4 percent.

Josephine George Francis of the former ruling Unity Party received 12,560 votes or 10.1 percent while Finley Y. Karngar of the Victory for Change Party (VCP) received 1,451 votes or 1.2 percent and Mark Austin Keshen (an independent candidate) received 11,504 votes or 9.3 percent.

Others in the political contest were Rep. Yekeh Y. Kolubah (independent) who got 3,483 or 2.8 percent and Michael Doe Typeson of the United People's Party who received 1,793 or 1.4 percent.

The total valid votes for Montserrado in the Senatorial by-election, as reported by NEC chairman, Cllr. Jerome George Korkoya, was 123,821.

According to Korkoya, of the total valid votes counted and tallied (123,821 votes), 1,553 were invalid and these summed up the grand total amount of votes to 125,374.

"Based on these results, and in keeping with section 2.9 of the New Elections Law of Liberia, I, on behalf of the Board of Commissioners of the National Elections Commission, do hereby declare Mr. Saah Hardy Joseph of the Coalition for Democratic Change as the winner of the July 31, 2018 Senatorial By-Election in Montserrado County," he announced.

He added that the Senators-elect, Tokpa and Joseph, will be certificated within the time frame provided for by law.

Representative By-Election in Montserrado Electoral District #13

Having already understood that Saah Joseph, October 10, 2017 re-elected Representative for Montserrado electoral district #13 has succeeded in replacing George Manneh Weah, former Senator of the County who is now President of Liberia, another by-election is set to take place in District #13.

The election of Mr. Joseph to the Senate, although backed by law, is said to have angered some pundits, who told the Daily Observer that the CDC ruling establishment violated the Constitution by postponing the Senatorial by-election from May 2018 to the last day in July (31) due to lack of money. According to them, this was made known to the public by Finance and Development Planning Minister (MFDP), Samuel Tweah, who will now have to secure additional funding for another by-election to fill the vacancy created by the election of Saah Joseph.

Mr. Mulbah Kessely, a special aide to the Alternative National Congress (ANC) political leader, Alexander B. Cummings, said it is a sad day for Liberia, particularly so for CDC failing to nominate a different candidate instead of Joseph for whose election in 2017 tens of thousands of United States Dollars was spent.

"While in the seat of an opposition political party, CDC saw all the wasteful spending that the Ellen Johnson Sirleaf administration had carried out. They promised to bring a change to the status quo but, God is my witness, CDC will be worse the than Unity Party," Kesselly said.

He said electing Rep. Joseph to the Senate was one of the greatest mistakes electorates have made and in a not distant future they will regret their collective action.

Although he did not state as to whether he has a hardcore evidence, Kessely said Senator-elect Joseph did not offer any free service during the Ebola Virus Disease's outbreak in the country.

"They say around here that Saah Joseph was the Ebola Hero during the outbreak of the epidemic, but one thing they failed to realize is that Joseph received over US$ 300,000 to help curb the deadly disease. He got money from funds that were donated by philanthropic organizations and friendly countries. They don't know this fact, but all they have to say is that he fought to save lives, whether free or not, is no longer their concern," he said.

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