Liberia: Former EPA Boss Decries Election Fraud in Gbarpolu, Grand Kru Counties

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Nathaniel Blama, former Executive Director, Environmental Protection Agency and political leader of the Liberian National Union (LINU)

-- Demands re-run

The political leader of the Liberian National Union (LINU) and ex-Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Executive Director, Nathaniel Blama, is calling for a re-run in the senatorial election held in Gbarpolu and Grand Kru counties, contending that ballot boxes and tally sheets were tampered with.

According to Blama, there is a total number of 113 polling places in Grand Kru County and, of that number, only 111 were processed while two polling places are in question. "During our tallying, we realized that some ballot boxes were compromised, seals were broken, ballot papers stuffed and a lot of irregularities. For that, we are demanding a re-run."

Blama, who had a sudden and strange fall from grace with President George Manneh Weah between March and July this year, said: "We as a party are prepared to take the matter to the Supreme Court if it is not addressed properly by the NEC."

He said his candidate, Nathaniel Bahway, was intimidated by security apparatus who claimed that he (Bahway) incited his partisans to cause chaos, thereby destroying his properties. "Also our poll watchers were denied a copy of the complaint form to a point where I had to intervene."

In his public intervention, Blama added that, "I had to place a call to the election magistrate, informing him that under our laws, there is a statutory period to file a complaint and I was later informed by him that he had a lot of complaint forms on his desk but was still investigating, noting that due to my constant communication he was able to give the complaint form."

According to him, up to now, there are some polling places where the carbon copies of the counting sheets have not been released and, on the basis of these issues, there should be a re-run. "We have made the representation to the NEC and they have informed us that the matter is not yet before them, but they have however been notified by the magistrate that there is going to be a recount.

"If one candidate has over 150 votes and the other candidate is claiming victory, then there can be a recount, but it is not the case. People tampered with the ballot boxes and tally sheets. In a particular polling center, a total vote cast was 51 and someone had nine votes, but when the tally sheet entered the tally room, the person who had 9 votes became 106. So, over 98 votes were manipulated, which does not reflect the will of the people and we as a party are prepared to challenge it before the board of commissioners and the supreme court until we get proper redress," said Blama.

He also pointed out that there have been attempts by NEC to conduct re-run in one of the districts in Gbarpolu County but was interrupted by traditional leaders who felt disenchanted that people coming from foreign countries to participate in the decision making process was wrong.

"Traditional leaders came in and seized ballots boxes on grounds that people were about to participate in the election who do not hail from the area. In fact, if you listen to the police commissioner, he admitted that they have arrested some Sierra Leonean nationals and have been processed to be deported to Sierra Leone for illegally crossing and being in possession of our voting cards," he added.

He frowned on some politicians who, during an election, import people from different countries to form part of the electoral process in the county.

"This should be a caveat to us politicians that, henceforth, nobody should get involved in bringing people from across the borders or trucking people from counties to [vote in other] counties."

"The constitution of Liberia provides that citizens have the right to self-determination and that self-determination can be undermined if you allow [people] from [neighboring] countries... to come and make decisions for [our] people," said Blama.

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