The Inquirer is a leading independent daily newspaper published in Liberia, based in Monrovia. It is privately owned with a "good reputation".

NEC Sets January 7 For The Election In Gbarpolu Town

By Bill W. Cooper
At long last, the National Elections Commission (NEC) has officially set Thursday, January 7, as the date for the conduct of election in Normondartono Town, Kongba District in Gbarpolu County.
Addressing a news conference at her NEC office over the weekend in Congo Town, NEC chairperson, Davidetta Browne-Lansanah stated that the election will be conducted in electoral District #3, at the Normondartono Town Hall with precinct code #45039 comprising four polling places with 2,021 registered voters in that part of the county.
According to her, their decision was triggered following series of consultations with stakeholders including various political party leaders of the county as well as assurances given them by authorities of the Ministry of Justice, the Liberia National Police (LNP) and the Ministry of Internal Affair (MIA) of a safe environment for citizens to exercise their constitutional franchise unhindered.
Madam Davidetta Browne-Lansanah added that the Commission is in its readiness to conduct the election after it has procured new election materials, including ballots, emphasizing, “The NEC has also constituted a new team of electoral technicians who will conduct the election and referendum on January 7, 2021.”
She stressed, “The Commission also wants to further inform the public that the deployment of civic and voter education will take place prior to the January 7, election date, as you are aware; the NEC did not complete the election in Normondartono on December 8, 2020 as planned due to circumstances beyond the Commission’s control.”
The NEC chairperson emphasized, “The NEC has since condemned the violent situation and has taken a number of actions including a high-level consultation with the Ministry of Justice, Internal Affairs and the LNP. Both entities have assured NEC that the situation which led to the violence in Normondartono will not be repeated.”
“We also held consultation with the political parties through the Inter-Party Consultative Committee (IPCC) on the matter. Additionally, the Commission held two meetings with senatorial candidates in Gbarpolu on December 18 and 30, 2020. Consultations were also held with civil society and election observation groups. Also, a high-level technical team sent to the area by the NEC has since returned with its findings that there is sufficient calm to conduct the election in the area,” Madam Browne-Lansanah averred.
Meanwhile, The NEC is therefore calling on all candidates to participate in the election and referendum as well as the 2,021 registered voters for the Special Senatorial Election and Constitutional Referendum to turn out to vote on January 7, 2021, stating, “The Commission also calls on accredited national and international groups to observe the process.”
However, Commenting on the Grand Kru saga, Madam Brown-Lansanah said, “The team that we also sent to that county has returned and informed the Commission as to what actually occurred there, so we are going to consolidate by firstly going through their report as well as hearing from the technicians and Board of Commissioners before it goes to the legal team, after which we will then proceed with what the recommendation has in the report.”
It can be recalled, Gbarpolu County was said to be one of the counties that is said to have experienced serious electoral violence since the conclusion of the Tuesday, December 8 Special Senatorial Election; something which has since stalled the tallying as well as the resumption of the voting process in the county.
It was reported that the town chief of Normondartono Town seized the ballot boxes thus preventing some 2,021 registered voters to exercise their constitutional franchise. According to report, it was alleged that the Town Chief seized the ballot boxes just before the process began on December 8 on information that there was influx of citizens from Freetown crossing over to the neighboring town mentioned in the process.
However, reports also gathered by this paper revealed that one of the senatorial candidates, Botoe Kanneh who got missing as a result of the violence has been rescued by several women groups thereby calling on the government to hastily investigate the alleged electoral violence in the county.

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