Jubilations overtook the grounds of the Temple of Justice in Monrovia on Wednesday, March 24, 2021 as the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Madam Botoe 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, when certificated by the National Elections Commission (NEC), will become 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 elections.