Liberia Supreme Court Hearing Threatens To Delay Election Run-off

Channels Television  
Updated November 1, 2017
FILE PHOTO: A ballot paper at a polling station in Monrovia during presidential and legislative elections. ISSOUF SANOGO / AFP

Liberia’s Supreme Court said it will summon the country’s election commission on Thursday over a legal complaint backed by three political parties regarding the October 10 presidential election, potentially delaying a runoff vote.

In a document released late Tuesday, the Supreme Court called on the National Elections Commission to defend itself on November 2 against “constitutional issues raised” in the complaint lodged by an opposition party and backed by the ruling party of presidential candidate and incumbent Vice-President Joseph Boakai.

Boakai is due to face former international footballer George Weah in the November 7 runoff vote, which was called after no single candidate won a majority of votes on October 10.

The Supreme Court also ordered the electoral commission to “stay any and all actions in respect of the pending run-off elections scheduled for November 7, 2017” pending a ruling on the allegations.

A statement released on Sunday by three parties said the election, which saw Weah take the most votes, was “characterised by massive systematic irregularities and fraud”.

The decision throws the scheduled vote into uncertainty and is likely to be met with heavy criticism from the Weah camp.

Benjamin Sanvee, Chairman of the Liberty Party, called the Supreme Court decision “a big step in the right direction.”

“Thankfully the Court recognises the gravity of the issues, and has taken action in defence of the law and democracy,” he said in a texted statement to AFP.

The election was hailed as largely credible by domestic and international observers, despite some recorded irregularities and long delays in voting.

The case comes despite repeated international calls for all sides to ensure Liberia’s first democratic transition in more than seven decades goes smoothly and to accept the official election results.