Liberia: Political Tension, Disunity Brew in District 11 Following the Disqualification of Thomas Nimene Tweh’s Candidacy

Political tension and disunity are brewing in electoral district # 11, Montserrado County following the disqualification of the leading Representative Candidate Thomas Tweh by the Supreme Court of Liberia.

Last week, the Supreme Court mandated the National Elections Commission (NEC) to nullify the candidacy of Mr. Tweh, who is commonly known as Original Country Man (OCM) on grounds that he was ineligible to contest following a domicile case filed against him by by his political opponent Siah Tandanpollie of the New Liberia Party (NLP).

Tandapollie contended that Mr. Tweh does not reside in district # 11, but in Louisiana, district # 1 in Montserrado County. Mr. Tweh is currently a resident of the God Grace Community in Louisiana.

The Supreme Court requested the NEC to remove the name of Mr. Tweh from the official list of qualified candidates vying for the representative seat of District 11, Montserrado County.

The court’s ruling was in keeping with Article 30 (b) of the 1986 Liberian Constitution.

The constitution is the organic law of the land.

Article 30 (b) of the 1986 Liberian Constitution states that “citizens of Liberia who meet the following qualifications are eligible to become members of the Legislature shall be domiciled in the country or constituency to be represented not less than one year prior to the time of the election and be a taxpayer.”

As a result of the Supreme Court’s ruling, supporters of Mr. Tweh are being subjected to provocations and humiliation from their political archrivals. His campaign flyers and banners were being taken down by supporters of his political archrivals.

Hundreds of Mr. Tweh’s supporters stage a peaceful protest over the week end and gathered at the headquarters of the Liberia National Police (LNP) on the Capitol Bye Pass in Monrovia when he (Tweh) was invited by the police for questioning.

They were venting out their dissatisfaction over the ruling and the invitation extended their representative candidate.

If steps are not taken to discourage supporters of other candidates from provoking or humiliating supporters of Mr. Tweh, the growing wave of political tension and disunity among the citizens would lead to chaos and the loss of lives and properties.

Already, the citizens are planning to set road blocks and boycott the October 1o elections as a result against the decision taken against Mr. Tweh. But despite the provocations, Mr. Tweh continues to call on his supporters to remain calm and peaceful.

The citizens are planning to set road blocks and disrupt the October 1o elections as a result against the decision taken against Mr. Tweh.

They want adequate steps taken and the elections law amended to prevent the reoccurrence of the situation they are currently faced with.

The citizens wondered why the case was adjudicated by the National Elections Commission (NEC) Hearing Officer and the Board of Commissioners, but yet still the Supreme Court ruled against Mr. Tweh.

“Since the Supreme Court ruling, our people have been having sleepless nights because, Mr. Tweh is our choice. Denying him from participating in the elections is a big blow to us,” the Spokesman of the aggrieved citizens Mr. David Nimely, 48 stated.

He said though residents of the district cannot question the ruling rendered by the Supreme Court, they would be poorly represented because, Mr. Tweh was the one endorsed and embraced to help transform district # 11.

Mr. Nimely emphasized that the district may not be stable as compare to other districts across the country, because of the court’s decision.

He claimed that the hope and aspiration of residents of the district have been dashed and as such, citizens are now constrained to back off from the entire electoral process and allow the will of few to prevail.

He said the district will be poorly represented at the level of the National Legislature, and the new lawmaker may not enjoy the trust and confidence of the people because, he or she may not be the choice of the majority.

Mr. Nimely stated that the latest situation should be a justifiable reason why there should be a separate court established to adjudicate electoral cases in the country.

“Mr. Tweh is our choice; if you look at the way people went to his house that night after the court ruling, you will know that people really love and want him to represent them. We will not vote for this government or support any of their candidates in this district or county because of the decision from the court,” Theresa Davies, 32 noted

She emphasized that financial resources, energy and efforts applied by hundreds of residents to canvass and support the election of Mr. Tweh have been wasted as a result of the court’s ruling.

According to her, the district will not be a place for citizens to live in peace and harmony because; Mr. Tweh and his supporters are currently being provoked and humiliated by supporters of other candidates contesting in the elections.

Madam Davies maintained that there currently exists a high level of division or disunity among residents of the district following the High Court’s ruling.

“There is already no unification or reconciliation in this country and the court came up with this ruling. Do they want us to continue to be divided or make confusion among ourselves? We don’t want to go back to the old days and so, the court should be there to render decisions to stabilize the society instead of dividing people. Mr. Tweh is our choice and if he doesn’t participate in the elections, we will not vote.”

“Mr. Tweh is the only one now that can tell us to vote, rethink our decision to vote for this person as President, Senator or Representative. Though the court say he should not contest, we see him as our political leader, the same way Nimba County people see Prince Johnson.”

Also speaking, Richard Harris, 30, said vast majority of youths in the district are disturbed and downhearted as a result of the court’s ruling.

He recalled that one of the root causes of Liberian civil conflict was dissatisfaction over the outcome of election results and as such, the judiciary must exert efforts to render impartial judgments on electoral cases during this electioneering period in Liberia.

He said Liberia would slip back to the old days if wrong decisions are taken to please a selective few people over the majority.

“We don’t want any chaos in our country; but the decision from the court has the propensity of stirring up confusion in our district because, people who know some of us to be supporting Original Country Man now sees us as their laughing stock; they are provoking us and nobody is saying anything about that. For me, I may not retaliate, but others will act and things will get out of hand-even though we are not praying for that.”

Speaking in an interview with Reporters recently, the Commissioner of Louisiana Township Moses K. White disclosed that Tweh is a bonafide resident of the God Grace Community.

Despite the court’s ruling, he claimed that the God Grace Community remains a part of district # 11.

“We have started providing tutorial for people on numerous occasions. We need to understand the difference between electoral boundaries and political boundaries. We have the political map here and the political map will give you the demarcation between townships, cities and clans. But when it comes to electoral aspect, we have electoral districts. To our own understanding, where God Grace Community is, it is part of the township of Louisianna, when it comes to electoral processes, God Grace Community is in district # 11.”

He said the township falls under three electoral districts, including districts 1, 2 and 11.

Commissioner White maintained that as per the mapping, the boundary between Louisiana and Caldwell is district 11, the boundary between Louisiana and Johnsonville is district # 2, while the remaining parts of the township falls in district # 1 in Montserrado County.

“Caldwell has two lawmakers, Richard Koon and Abu Kamara. So, electoral districts have nothing to do with townships, clans or cities; people need to understand that we have the political and electoral mapping. Since the new threshold or census was conducted, the NEC has not come up with any demarcation.”

“But if you look at the past elections in 2005, Caldwell, Louisiana, and Brewerville were part of a single district headed by Victoria Lynch. It was district 13 at the time. After that, there was a census conducted and the legislature passed a new threshold separating the Right Bank and the Left bank. The Right Bank of the St. Paul River is now district 17.”

Commissioner White blamed the wrong demarcating of political and electoral districts on the failure of citizens to carry out a thorough research.

He observed that the relevant authorities are not being contacted to provide adequate information on pertinent issues.

He said the omission of the name of a particular community from NEC mapping does not necessarily mean that such community does not exist in a district.

“If you go to the NEC, you will see there are some communities on the election mapping. Take for example district 11 map, there will be some major communities on the map. Those were communities that were in existence when the census was done. Other communities will not be there because they are newly established communities.”

Commissioner White maintained that the residence of Mr. Tweh falls in district 11 even though he has disqualified to contest the elections.

“We have said to people that ‘go to NEC or get a geographer to come and know where the boundary stops. These are simple things but we know that these are political times and people try to make issues out of it.”

He said the lack of Voter Registration center in a particular community should not be used to determine whether or not said community is part of a district or not.

“The best way to find an electoral district is to go to NEC. The boundaries are there and major communities are listed. Even District 15 cut across three townships; Garklo Towship, New Georgia Township and Caldwell Township. As a major stakeholder of this township, districts # 1, 2 and 11 fall in Louisiana.”


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