MONROVIA, Montserrado – In the latest development in the testy Press Union of Liberia elections, aggrieved members of the group have withdrawn a complaint filed before the Civil Law Court, paving the way for a final resolution of the crisis surrounding the union’s elections.
In an earlier reporting by The Bush Chicken, it was revealed that a number of aggrieved members of the union had complained that activities preceding a scheduled Nov. 9 election were marred by irregularities and constitutional violations. The aggrieved members included Sekou Sheriff of Freedom FM, W. Omecee Johnson, and Sebo Williams.
The complaint was successful in temporarily halting the election. But the injunction was soon overturned in a counteraction by the Press Union leadership, which asked the court to lift the injunction.
Following the lifting of the injunction, the union’s leadership and its election commission wasted no time announcing a resumption of political campaigning from Nov. 13–16, and a new Nov. 16 date for the elections at the union’s headquarters in Monrovia.
Unhappy by unfolding events and having been accused of behind-the-scenes manipulations in the initial actions leading to the injunction of the first scheduled elections, the union’s current vice president and presidential candidate, Octavin Williams, announced he would boycott the elections.
Williams boycotted the election along with his team of candidates for vice president, Weemon Jallah Cole-Boyce; for secretary, Nathaniel Daygbor, and for assistant secretary, Jutonue Kollie. They claimed that the process was illegal, given the complaint filed before the court.
But despite the boycotts, the elections proceeded without further disruptions. Incumbent president Charles Coffey and his team of contestants remained engaged and participated in the voting.
When the results were finally announced, Coffey and his team were declared winners.
Coffey obtained 401 of the total votes cast for president, while Williams captured 19 votes. In the vice presidential race, Daniel Nyakonah triumphed over Cole-Boyce, with 355 votes to 54. Musa Kanneh also won the secretary general post with 308 votes, against Daygbor, who obtained only 96 votes. In the race for assistant secretary general, Jutonue Kollie won after obtaining 195 of the total votes cast, while Moses Garzeawu and Baysah Kollie obtained 145 and 67 votes, respectively.
Although the impasse was finally overcome and elections held, the legal wrangling appeared to have depressed voters’ turnout. Only 36 percent of union’s total membership cast ballots.
If the Press Union is successful in withstanding beatings in its public reputation, its internal unity and stability has already been badly hurt. And it remains to be seen how the president-elect, Coffey, will work to overcome these divisions within the union going forward.
Featured photo by Zeze Ballah