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Liberia Lawmaker Denies Election Manipulation

  • James Butty

FILE - A woman votes in Liberia's Special Senatorial election.

FILE - A woman votes in Liberia's Special Senatorial election.

The speaker of Liberia’s House of Representatives, Alex Tyler, has denied news reports that he manipulated elections workers to influence the outcome of the December 20 special senatorial election in President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s home province of Bomi County.

With 92 percent of precincts reporting, Morris Saytumah of the ruling Unity Party is said to be leading incumbent Senator Lahai Lansanah of the National Patriotic Party.

Police reportedly arrested Senator Lansanah and his wife following clashes between supporters of the two camps.

A supporter of Lansanah told local media that the senator’s arrest was engineered by Speaker Tyler in an attempt to manipulate the outcome.

Tyler said the allegations are farfetched and untrue.

“Like any other citizen, I went on Saturday, the 20th [of December] to my village where I had to vote. From there I went to my residence in Tubmanberg where I was until after the election before returning to Monrovia,” he said.

Tyler said even though he endorsed one of the candidates in the election, he was never on the ballot and could not have carried out the alleged bribery.

He said he’s being used as a scapegoat by people who are refusing to accept the will of the voters.

“The allegations could be coming from people who did not win the election. I’m not in this election, so why would I carry out bribery?” the Speaker said.

Tyler said he does not have the authority as speaker of the House to order the arrest any citizen as alleged by supporters of Senator Lansanah.

“I’m not head of the Executive Branch of government. I head the Legislative Branch that does not have police power. And since I left Tubmanberg on Saturday evening, I haven’t been back there. So, how could I order the arrest of somebody when I wasn’t even there?” Tyler said.

He said allegations of manipulation and bribery are being made by people who are not willing to accept defeat.

“Election is one of the elements of democracy. People need to accept results when they do not win and stop pointing fingers. When people do not an election they find scapegoats. And that’s what happened. They tried to scapegoat me. Even the Senate Pro Temp did not win, but he accepted the results and graciously walked away,” Tyler said.

Tyler said no official from the National Elections Commission has approached him because they know the allegations are not true.

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