Supreme Court Hears LP ‘Election Frauds And Irregularities’ Complaints, Decides Monday Liberia’s Presidential Runoff

The grounds of the Supreme Court of Liberia on Capitol Hill was today, November 3, 2017 a scene of attraction as dozens gathered to witness and take a glance of the man in the center of Liberty Party (LP) vs the National Elections Commission (NEC) on allegation of frauds and irregularities during the October 10, general and presidential elections.

Partisans and well wishers of the Liberty Party and the four political parties including the ruling Unity Party, the All Liberian Party, and the Alternative National Congress  that join the fray to support the Liberty Party in it legal battle against to the National Elections Commission at the nation’s highest Court were there in their numbers.

During the hearing in the jammed parked court room of the Supreme Court of Liberia, Chief Justice Francis Korkpor on Friday said it would decide on Monday whether a runoff vote for the presidency will go ahead, after hearing arguments from an opposition party and the electoral commission.

Chief Justice Francis Korkpor said the court would issue a decision on Monday at 10am (1000 GMT) over whether the runoff between former international footballer George Weah and incumbent Vice-President Joseph Boakai would proceed.

However, most observers agree the scheduled date of November 7 now looks near-impossible.

Charles Brumskine, who came third in an October 10 election behind Weah and Boakai, is alleging “massive fraud and irregularities” marred the poll and is seeking a re-run of the whole vote.

The Weah-Boakai runoff was triggered after no single candidate gained more than 50 percent of votes, though Weah topped the poll.

Boakai has said he backs Brumskine’s legal complaint.

On October 31, the five-judge panel ordered the National Elections Commission (NEC) to temporarily suspend election preparations — a decision the NEC Chairman Jerome Korkoya says means November 7 is now a date it “does not look possible to meet”.

In court, Brumskine said allowing the election to go ahead before his allegations are resolved by an internal complaint lodged with the NEC, or in court, was “tantamount to denying… due process of the law”, representing his own party before the judges.

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

Lawyers for the NEC argued the date and timing of the runoff was enshrined in the constitution and could not be altered for any legal complaint.

Liberia’s 2005 and 2011 elections also ended in disputes lodged by Weah’s CDC party, though only 2011’s reached the Supreme Court.

Liberty Party Chairman Benjamin Sanvee told AFP: “You can never tell because this is the Supreme Court, but we believe we presented our case well.”

The NEC was not immediately available for comment following the hearing.

A lawyer by training, Brumskine has urged Boakai not to take part in the runoff after the vice-president said he would go ahead regardless of his backing for the legal case.

Commentators describe the election — showcased as Liberia’s first democratic transition in seven decades — as a key test of stability after an estimated quarter of a million people died in back-to-back civil wars.

The country emerged from the bloodshed with the election in 2005 of Ellen Johnson Sirleaf — Africa’s first elected woman president.

She is stepping down after a maximum two six-year terms in which she helped to ease the trauma of conflict but struggled to tackle its grinding poverty

West African leaders met with all sides of the conflict on Wednesday in an attempt to ease the crisis.

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About Cholo Brooks 12182 Articles
Joel Cholo Brooks is a Liberian journalist who previously worked for several international news outlets including the BBC African Service. He is the CEO of the Global News Network which publishes two local weeklies, The Star and The GNN-Liberia Newspapers. He is a member of the Press Union Of Liberia (PUL) since 1986, and several other international organizations of journalists, and is currently contributing to the South Africa Broadcasting Corporation as Liberia Correspondent.