Liberia: Runoff or Rerun, Supreme Court Decides Today

(File photo).

Public concern on whether the Supreme Court will allow either a runoff or rerun of the October 10 presidential and legislative elections, is expected to be settled today in a judgment by the Full Bench of the Supreme Court.

If the justices’ decision goes the way of a runoff, it means President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf will have the opportunity to transfer power to either her Vice President, Joseph Boakai of the ruling Unity Party (UP), or Senator George Weah of the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) by January 2018.

If the decision goes to the contrary, that is a rerun, it will mean that President Sirleaf will find it difficult to transition, and maybe the Supreme Court will come up with an alternative.

Today’s ruling will be the last time that the Supreme Court will intervene in matters regarding the October 10 presidential and legislative elections.

Besides, the justices will also lift the injunction earlier placed on the conduct of the runoff due to the petition asking for the delay after Liberty Party’s complaint was not investigated by the National Elections Commission (NEC).

What remains to be answered is that, if the court accepts to clean up the voter roll, how soon will that be? This is one of the questions the court will be answering today.

Senator George Weah of the CDC and Vice President Joseph Boakai of the UP during the October election received more votes than the rest of the other candidates in the presidential race, thus qualifying them to participate in the runoff that was challenged by the LP.

Weah obtained 38.4 percent of the total valid votes in the presidential race, while Boakai had 28.8 percent.

The UP intervened on behalf of the LP as the other complainant against the NEC’s handling of the process.

Both complainants have asked for the cleaning up of the voter roll, a request many believe the court will accept today.

The court heard arguments last Friday, when Charles Brumskine asked the court to nullify the outcome of the first round of the October 10 poll, claiming it was marred by fraud and irregularities.

Brumskine had alleged fraud, late commencement of voting and disenfranchisement of LP members and supporters at some polling centers, as some of his reasons for calling for a rerun of the election.

A lawyer for the commission, Alexander Zoe, asked the court to dismiss the petition and allow the runoff to proceed.

Prior to the stay order, election preparations were on track as ballot papers arrived as scheduled on Oct. 28, NEC chair Cllr. Jerome Korkoya announced then.

Cllr. Korkoya said they had shipped ballot papers and other materials to Maryland, Grand Kru, River Gee and Grand Gedeh counties before the stay order was issued.

Korkoya also said distribution of the remaining materials to Maryland, River Gee, Nimba, Margibi and Bong counties were scheduled.

“That was suspended, and in some cases, the materials already in transit as of the time the court order came were recalled to the commission’s warehouses,” he explained after the court order.

The NEC chairman said deliveries scheduled for Bomi, Grand Bassa, Cape Mount, Grand Gedeh, Sinoe and parts of Montserrado counties were also suspended.

He stated that training of NEC staff had also been suspended. “Magistrate and election supervisor training were completed before the stay order was issued. Materials for training that were scheduled to commence for presiding officers from across the country had arrived at the training centers at the time of the order and the training of polling staff scheduled for Nov. 3 and 4 was also suspended,” Korkoya announced then.

“The training of all staff was supposed to be completed on Nov. 5 to allow staff members to reach their polling places,” he said.

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