Supreme Court Halts Presidential Run-Off In Liberia Over Fraud Allegations

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Election Observation: As Liberia Decides, Are There Lessons From Kenya?, By Samson Itodo

The Supreme Court in Liberia has put on hold the November 7 presidential run-off election until it considers a challenge to first round results by a losing candidate who has alleged fraud.

Reuters gathered that third-place finisher Charles Brumskine’s Liberty Party contested the results of last month’s vote, which set up a Nov. 7 run-off between former soccer star George Weah and Vice President Joseph Boakai.

In a writ issued late on Tuesday, the country’s apex court directed the Liberty Party and the National Elections Commission to file briefs by Thursday.

It was 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.”

Earlier this week, Boakai’s ruling Unity Party announced it was backing the legal challenge. It accused President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, one of its own members, of interfering in the Oct. 10 vote by holding private meetings with election magistrates.

Johnson Sirleaf, who has governed for the last 12 years, denied the meetings were inappropriate. International observers like the European Union and the Carter Center have said that they saw no major problems with the first round vote.

The court’s decision points to the increasingly assertive role some African judiciaries are playing in overseeing elections.



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