2 November 2017

Liberia: Uncertainty Looms in Liberia After Court Puts Presidential Run-Off On Hold Amid Fraud Charges

Photo: Nick N. Seebeh/Liberian Observer
From left: ECOWAS Chairman and President of the Republic of Togo, Faure Gnassingbé; President of Liberia, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf; and AU Chair and President of the Republic of Guinea, Alpha Condé, at the high table. The AU and ECOWAS are working to resolve the political impasse that has gripped the Liberian nation since the release of the results of the October 10 polls.

Fraud claims and voting irregularities have prompted Liberia's Supreme Court to order a temporary halt on run-off elections next week. The West African nation is voting for a successor of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.

Liberia's Supreme Court has put a hold on presidential run-off elections scheduled for November 7 amid fraud claims by one of the candidates who lost in the first round.

Charles Brumskine of the Liberty Party who came in third in the October 10 election demanded an investigation into alleged fraud and mass irregularities. The court stressed it had not annulled the October 10 election.

Liberians are voting for a successor of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, who prepares to step down after 12 years in office. If everything goes smoothly, it would be the first democratic transition in more than seven decades.

According to results of the first round, opposition candidate and former soccer star George Weah of Coalition for Democratic Change are set to run against Vice President Joseph Boakai of the ruling Unity Party. Both the ruling party as well as two smaller opposition parties support the legal challenge.

Last week, Unity Party's Boakai had accused Sirleaf of the same party of interfering in the election by meeting polling officials at her home.

The Liberty Party welcomed the decision by the court to put a hold on run-off elections.

"We see it as a welcoming development," said Kla Toomey, Liberty Party's media and political affairs officer. "We have maintained very strongly that the foremost factor that underpins democracy governance is the rule of law."

Fragile peace

Liberia still grapples with the fallout of a 14-year civil war that ended in 2003 after more than 250,000 people were killed and about one million displaced.

Riot police was deployed outside the Supreme Court and election headquarters in Liberia's capital Monrovia on Wednesday.

"The conflict that ended some 14 years ago was based on lack of confidence in the election result," human rights lawyer Tiawon Gongoloe told DW.

"We cannot take election matters lightly, that is what caused over 200,000 people to be killed in this country," he added. The case is due to be heard on Thursday.

Evelyn Kpadeh contributed to the report.

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