A defeated Senatorial Candidate and current Gbarpolu County District #1 Representative, Alfred Koiwood has congratulated Senator Botoe Kanneh for her victory in the December 8, 2020 Midterm Senatorial Elections.
In an interview with newsmen in Monrovia, Representative Koiwood stated that the development of the country cannot be held back and added that the interest of the people is paramount to any individual.
According to him, the Supreme Court of Liberia is the final place for justice in the country, noting that there were other avenues created to pursue his case but he decided not to do so on grounds that people of Gbarpolu’s interest is bigger than individual interest.
He lauded the Coalition for the Democratic Change (CDC), his supporters and the legal team for the level of support provided him during the legal battle with Senator Kanneh.
Senator Kanneh’s certification by the National Elections Commission (NEC) was delayed after the CDC candidate, Representative Koiwood, filed a complaint about fraud and elections violence allegedly caused by supporters of Senator Kanneh, a claim which was dismissed by the NEC and the Supreme Court of Liberia.
In the Supreme Court ruling, Justices labeled the continued failure of the Ministry of Justice to prosecute election offenders accordingly as a threat to the country’s peace and existence.
The High Court opined that action by the Ministry of Justice led by Cllr. Musa Dean to downplay cases of electoral violence predicts a grim future for Liberia’s democracy and its people.
“We fear that if election violence is not handled decisively now, future elections in our country will be disaster-prone,” the Court’s five Justices wrote in a unanimous ruling relating to the Gbarpolu County electoral dispute case involving Senator Kanneh (appellant), Coalition for Democratic Change (1st appellee) and the National Elections Commission (2nd appellate).
Meanwhile, Representative Koiwood revealed that he will soon stage a peace and reconciliations tournament in the county, which is intended to bring together supporters of the nine candidates that contested the December 8th senatorial midterm elections, aimed at moving the county forward.
He said it is about time the legislative caucus welcomes Senator Kanneh for the common good of the people and the county.
Following months of legal battle, jubilations overtook the grounds of the Temple of Justice in Monrovia on March 24, 2021, as the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Madam Kanneh as the winner of the December 8, 2020, senatorial election in Gbarpolu.
Several prominent women, including former Minister of Gender, Children and Social Protection, Madam Julia Duncan Cassell, were present during the handing down of the verdict in favor of Madam Kanneh for whom they have raised money for her legal fees to appeal at the Supreme Court.
Madam Kanneh, following her certification by the NEC on March 30, 2021, as the winner, became the first female Senator of Gbarpolu County and the second female Senator apart from Nyonblee Karnga-Lawrence of Grand Bassa County within the current Liberian Senate.
Madam Kanneh was projected as the winner of the Gbarpolu County Senate seat as an Independent Candidate ahead of her closest challenger Representative Alfred Koiwood of the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) after the rerun election in Nomodatanau.
Representative Koiwood later filed an election violence case against her at the NEC but the case was referred to the Magistrate in Gbarpolu County on grounds that NEC’s Board of Commissioners had no jurisdiction to investigate matters of such nature. Therefore, the women groups took to the streets in their “Let her take her seat” campaign in an effort to raise money for her case to be taken to the Supreme Court at a cost of US$5,000.00.
Before the rerun election in the Gbarpolu County Electoral District Number Three, Madam Kanneh, whose two brothers are lawyers, Boakai and Moifee, had been in the lead with 4,767 electoral votes, while her closest rival, Representative Koiwood had 4,281 votes from the 139 polling places out of 144, as far as data from NEC is concerned.
Though Madam Kanneh’s lead against Representative Koiwood was slightly reduced, she still beat her rival whose votes in the January 7, 2021 re-run were not sufficient to surpass the only female candidate in the race. Preliminary results from Nomodatanau show that Madam Kanneh obtained a total of 188 votes while Representative Koiwood got 217.
Representative Koiwood secured more votes than Madam Kanneh in Nomodatanu, yet she managed to keep her overall lead as the county’s Senator-elect due to her early lead in the race.
Nomodatanau, where the election was previously postponed due to electoral violence, had a population of 2,000 registered voters but due to the intimidation tactics by the paramount chief McGill Wleh and the country devil within the town, many of the voters did not turn out to vote.
During the violence on December 8, 2020, the paramount chief of Nomodatanau, McGill Wleh, with support from his fellow residents seized ballot boxes and prevented the election from taking place due to what he called ‘illegal attempts by aliens to vote’ in that part of the country.
The seizure and confiscation of the four ballot boxes resulted to the closure of the polling precinct until the end of the day.
After some days of electoral violence, paramount chief McGill summoned the town’s country devil, thus increasing the violence and the reported kidnapping of Madam Kanneh to an unknown location on December 14, 2020, a day ahead of the first rerun.
The action of the town chief and his collaborators was said to have been prompted by allegations of foreign nationals with Liberian voter registration cards, especially Sierra Leoneans, attempting to vote ahead of the election