Liberia's Presidential Runoff Is Delayed

NEC Lawyers arrival at the court

The Supreme Court of Liberia has fixed November 6 for ruling seeking a re-run of the October 10 presidential election in the West African country.

Supreme Court Chief Justice Francis Korkpor said the National Elections Commission (NEC) was prohibited "from conducting the runoff election until the complaint filed by the petitioners is investigated", referring to the opposition Liberty Party.

Runoff candidates, former worldwide footballer George Weah of the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) and Vice President Joseph Boakai of the governing Unity Party, were originally scheduled to face each other on November 7.

But preparations for the second round were halted last week when the Supreme Court announced it was examining a complaint by the Liberty Party of third-place candidate Charles Brumskine alleging widespread irregularities during the poll.

According to a FrontPage Africa report, citing Article 50 of the Constitution, the tenures of outgoing President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and Vice President Joseph Boakai expires on January 22, 2018.

Weah, who became the first non-European to win the European soccer player of the year award in 1995, won the first round of voting with 38.4 percent to Boakai's 28.8 percent.

Commentators describe the election - showcased as Liberia's first democratic transition in seven decades - as a key test of stability after Sirleaf's presidency, which followed back-to-back civil wars between 1989-2003 in which an estimated quarter of a million people died.

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The Unity Party are backing the legal challenge against the initial vote.

"The efforts to disenfranchise voters and undermine Liberia's democracy were grave enough to warrant intervention from the Supreme Court, and we are glad that after listening to our case and reviewing the indisputable evidence, the court agrees", said Liberty Party chairman Benjamin Sanvee, celebrating the ruling.

The delay has increased tension in Liberia, an iron ore and rubber producer, where many are eager for change after 12 years of Johnson Sirleaf rule.

"Until the rule of law is respected in Liberia, holding a runoff or any election is irrelevant".

Her spokesman has said the meeting was in the course of the normal actions of a concerned president.

In parallel, Boakai and Brumskine have accused Sirleaf of "interfering" in the elections by meeting polling officials at her residence ahead of the vote, though her press secretary has said the talks were "consistent with her constitutional role".

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