3 November 2017

Liberia: Supreme Court to Hear LP Case Today

After placing a stay order on all activities leading to the holding of the runoff presidential election, the Supreme Court is today expected to begin hearing into the complaints of irregularities filed by the opposition Liberty Party (LP) against the conduct of the October 10 presidential and legislative elections by the National Elections Commission (NEC).

The Supreme Court order is believed to have placed a serious temporary obstacle on preparations for next Tuesday's runoff elections, as the NEC has to wait for the outcome of the hearing of the complaints, which the LP said is a "violation of the Constitution, election law, fraudulent acts and gross irregularities during the October 10 elections."

The runoff election is scheduled between the ruling Unity Party (UP) of Vice President Joseph N. Boakai and the opposition Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) of Senator George Weah.

Lawyers representing the NEC and the LP were expected to appear before the Supreme Court yesterday, but failed to do so without any legal reason.

The matter has been rescheduled for today, Friday at 9 a.m.

The UP has publicly announced that it is backing the LP, claiming that "President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf was interfering with the electoral process to influence its outcome."

President Sirleaf's office has denied the allegation, although the UP is yet to produce any evidence to support her claim against the party's former standard bearer.

The stay order on the electoral process resulted from the LP's plea for a Writ of Prohibition claiming irregularities and fraud during the October 10 polls.

The writ was issued on Tuesday by Associate Justice Kabineh Ja'neh, the current Chamber Justice, who warned the NEC not to proceed with electoral activities leading to the run-off.

In his order, Justice Ja'neh instructed: "NEC has to stay away from any and or all actions in respect of the November 7 runoff election, pending the deposition by the Supreme Court of the LP's petition."

The order added: "the parties are informed that given the constitutional issues raised in the petition coupled with the fact that election matters are to be expeditiously heard and determined that upon serving the writ and the return, the case is hereby docketed for urgent deposition by the full bench."

In respect to Justice Ja'neh's order, the NEC has immediately halted all electoral activities to the runoff including training of election workers, which was scheduled for Thursday, and also the transportation of ballot materials to and in the all the 15 counties.

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