Liberia's Supreme Court Halts Presidential Election

Liberia’s Supreme Court has issued a halt of the Nov. 7th presidential run-off election until it considers a challenge by a losing candidate who has alleged fraud about the first round results. 

Charles Brumskine from the Liberty Party, who came in third place, challenged the results of the October vote, which set up a Nov. 7 run-off between former soccer star George Weah and Vice President Joseph Boakai.

This particular election was meant to usher in Liberia’s first democratic transition since 1944 after long periods of military rule and a civil war that ended in 2003.

In a writ issued late on Tuesday, the court instructed Liberty Party and the National Elections Commission to file briefs by Thursday at the latest.

It is still unclear if the court would rule before Nov. 7.

“This is a big step in the right direction,” Liberty Party Chairman Benjamin Sanvee said in a statement.

“Thankfully, the Court recognizes the gravity of the issues, and has taken action in defense of the law and democracy.”

Boakai’s ruling Unity Party announced that it was also backing the legal challenge.

The challenge also accused President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, of interfering in the Oct. 10 vote by holding private meetings with election magistrates before the Oct. 10 poll.

Johnson-Sirleaf has denied that the meetings were inappropriate, and international observers like the European Union and the Carter Centre have stated that they saw no major problems with the first round vote.

Former European soccer star, George Weah, won the first round with 38.4 percent of the vote to Boakai’s 28.8 percent.

On Friday, he received an endorsement from former warlord Prince Johnson, who won eight percent of the first-round vote.

On Wednesday, Morluba Morlu, a senior official from Weah’s CDC party, said he still expected the run-off to go ahead.

“It is sad for a ruling party that has been in power for 12 years (to) be crying,” he said of Unity Party’s support for the legal challenge.

“We don’t want any mockery of this election.”
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