Liberia Election on Hold, Supreme Court Orders

NEC Lawyers arrival at the court

NEC Lawyers arrival at the court

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 has until November 22 to conclude its investigation.

In his ruling Monday, one day to the earlier scheduled presidential run-off on November 7, Chief Justice Francis Korkpor of the Supreme Court said the electoral body ought to have investigated the claims by the disgruntled political parties before it reached the Supreme Court.

The run-off, to be contested by former global footballer George Weah for the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) against the incumbent Vice President Joseph Boakai for the governing Unity Party, is therefore on ice-and no one knows for how long.

The court on Monday announced the decision, saying the election would not go ahead until a legal complaint alleging voter fraud and irregularities by the opposition Liberty Party is resolved.

Weah, who became the first non-European to win the European soccer player of the year award in 1995, won the first round of voting with 38.4 percent to Boakai's 28.8 percent.

Global donors have poured billions into Liberia since Sirleaf was elected in 2005, and are eager to complete what will be the country's first democratic transition in seven decades, while watching nervously from the sidelines.

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Following the court's ruling, Sanvee lauded Unity Party, the All Liberian Party, the Alternative National Congress, and other political actors who stood in solidarity with his party.

Wilmot Paye, the chairman of Unity Party, said his party's leadership is glad because the responsibility of upholding democracy rests with the Supreme Court.

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

Boakai is also believed to have fallen out with his boss over her absence from the campaign trail, while supporters whisper that she prefers Weah, and the vice-president says he is in contact with Sirleaf "as and when she finds it necessary".

Sirleaf's press secretary has denied the meeting was anything other than a normal part of her duties in ensuring a peaceful election.

Addressing the court's five justices, Brumskine cited "gross irregularities".

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