By James Flomo|
Allegations are rife that claims of irregularities in the first round of elections in Liberia are part of a wider conspiracy to deny soccer star George Weah of the Liberian presidency. Weah, 51, won up to 39% of votes in the first round of Liberia’s general elections on October 10, closely followed by incumbent Vice President Joseph Boakai with 29%, and is widely expected to win the run off scheduled for November 7.
Weah had been a lead contender in each of Liberia’s last two presidential elections, but lost each time during the run-off. But the results of this year’s elections have followed claims of irregularities, including from the ruling Unity Party and other parties.
The Liberty Party of lawyer Charles Brumskine, which came a distant third with 9%, filed a suit with the Elections Commission to rerun the elections on allegations of massive frauds and irregularities. Responding to this claim, the Supreme Court yesterday issued a preliminary injunction on the Elections Commission from continuing with the electoral process until there can be a determination of the claims.
At a previous Supreme Court Hearing, the Chamber Justice Kabineh Ja’neh claimed constitutional magnitude for which he could not individually proceed with the matter, and sought a full convention of the Supreme Court to handle this matter.
There are also claims about President Sirleaf manipulating the results against her Vice President. But a press release from Pres Sirleaf quoted by the Voice of America and other international media out rightly denied them. However, credible polls conducted ahead of the elections repeatedly showed a tight race between Mr Weah, who is also a Senator, and Vice President Boakai. But when results actually came, Weah was seen leading 11 of Liberia’s 15 counties, followed by Boakai with 2 counties and lawyer Charles Brumskine and Senator Prince Johnson winning a county each.
The dispute at the heart of the ruling Unity Party – which has overseen the consolidation of peace but has been criticized for failing to do enough to promote economic development or combat corruption – makes it all the more clear that outsider and leading candidate George Weah would be better placed to lead Liberia.
With this development, civil society and related elements fear that efforts to deny Weah of the presidency may spur conflict and an eventual unconstitutional process. Weah told Africa News that no amount of fear tactic will stop the change that the Liberian people have expressed through their vote.
Weah is widely viewed as an icon of peace, both during his days as an active footballer, and during his political roles. He peacefully accepted defeat in the last two rounds of presidential elections – helping pave the road for the current peaceful handover of power. Riding high on a wave of youth support in a country desperate for change, he pushes a platform of poverty reduction, jobs and infrastructure, which hits all the right notes in the still-impoverished country.
Debates on the streets of Monrovia today express fears of an eventual interim government, which could obstruct the unique political transition. Liberia has not seen a peaceful democratic transition of this nature since 1944.