Liberia court indefinitely delays presidential vote

Posted November 07, 2017

The extraordinary delay in electing Liberia's new leader amid claims of electoral fraud is entrenching existing divides between the candidates and outgoing President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, as voters wait nervously for a resolution.

The National Elections Commission (NEC) has already made clear the original date "does not look possible to meet", in the words of its chairman Jerome Korkoya, after ballot paper shipments to the provinces were recalled and training of polling agents halted at the Supreme Court's request.

Late Monday, he said the Liberty Party doesn't have confidence in the ability of the National Elections Commission to partially investigate its complaint, and would soon be asking its leaders to step aside.

Liberia's Supreme Court will make a ruling on the country's presidential runoff vote amid allegations of fraud. Boakai is accusing the president of interfering in the October election by holding private meetings with election magistrates.

The two placed first and second in the October vote to replace Africa's first female president, neither garnering the more than 50 percent needed to win the election outright.

However, on October 23, Presidential nominee of the Liberty Party, Charles Brumskine [GNN Liberia profile], filed a complaint alleging a "violation of the Constitution and the Elections Law [and] fraudulent acts and gross irregularities during the elections".

Boakai took 28.8 percent of votes in an October 10 presidential election, behind former global footballer George Weah's 38.4 percent, meaning the two men would enter a runoff round.

The vote was meant to mark the first time since 1944 that a democratically elected leader would hand over power to another elected leader in the country.

A lawyer for the commission, Musa Dean, said "the highest court of the land has spoken and we have to abide by the ruling".

"This is not about winning or losing, this is about a system that has held the country hostage for years", Brumskine added, following his assertion in an interview with AFP on Thursday that the NEC's commissioners should all be sacked before any new poll.

The Supreme Court found that the fraud case was enough to suspend indefinitely the runoff as the electoral commission deals with Brumskine's complaint.

"Liberians are people who do not want problems".

The vice president was poised to go public with a weeks-long complaint by his supporters: that Sirleaf backs Weah, not the man who served alongside her in government for 12 years.

Brumskine came in third place in the last vote.