The Supreme Court of Liberia is expected today, Thursday, December 7, 2017 to hand down its final ruling on claims by two political parties that the October 10, 2017 presidential and legislative elections were marred by massive fraud and irregularities.
Liberians both at home and abroad are eagerly looking forward to the December 7th crucial ruling which is expected to end the weeks of political stalemate that have heightened tensions, which has positively not flared up into violence.
“I’m preparing my suit to be at that Temple of Justice tomorrow (Thursday) to see history being made,” remarked a young career woman in Monrovia on Wednesday.
The full bench of the Supreme Court is expected to take two key decisions in what is expected to be their landmark ruling. The five-member bench will either annul the first round ordering a rerun as being prayed for by Charles Brumskine’s Liberty Party (LP) and its political allies or order the holding of a runoff presidential election, something that was initially scheduled for November 7.
But the aborted runoff between the two frontrunners–Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) George Weah and Vice President Joseph Boakai of the ruling Unity Party (UP) was halted by the high court until the National Elections Commission (NEC) investigated the parties’ complaints.
That the country’s electoral body has since done, with the NEC’s Hearing Office dismissing the claims of fraud on grounds that the LP and UP lack sufficient evidence. That ruling was some two weeks ago upheld by NEC’s Board of Commissioners.
Thursday’s ruling will come after the court last week heard the arguments of lawyers of the three sides in the elections dispute case: the LP, UP and NEC.
Lawyers representing the LP said in their arguments before the full bench of the Supreme Court that they want a rerun of the polls based on what they see as systematic fraud during the conduct of the first round of voting.
LP of Cllr. Charles Walker Brumskine, which came third in the first round, took the NEC to court, accusing the electoral body of fraud, violations of the electoral laws and the constitution, among other allegations.
The LP was represented by its Standard Bearer Cllrs. Charles Walker Brumskine and Oswald Tweh. The party also asked the highest court in the country to rule for the Chairman of NEC, Cllr. Jerome Korkoya to recuse himself in the conduct of future polls.
In its Bill of appeal to the court, LP described NEC’s ruling as erroneous.
“Wherefore and in view of the foregoing, 1st Appellants hereby tender this, as their Bill of Exceptions, for your approval so that your adverse Final Ruling will be reviewed by the Supreme Court of the Republic of Liberia, and reversed.”
The LP further claims that NEC committed a reversible error saying, “although the specific allegations of violation of the Constitution and Elections Law of Liberia, the massive fraud and gross irregularities effectively remain unrefuted by the Apellee.”
The UP, represented by Cllrs. Benedict Sannoh and Lavala Supuwood, which joined the legal battle midway and “in solidarity” with the LP and Alternative National Congress (ANC), supported the LP’s position for a rerun of the polls, provided that the Final voter Registration Roll was not cleaned up.
The NEC lawyers led by Cllr. Musa Dean admitted that the electoral body had some challenges in conducting the October 10 polls, but said the faults were not grave enough to warrant a rerun of elections.
He said the complaining parties were failing to make a distinction between irregularities and fraud.
In line with Liberian law, the Supreme Court is required to rule on the appeal within seven day. That means it has to hand down its ruling the latest next Thursday, to hand down final ruling in the electoral case.
The runoff election due to have been held on November 7, was suspended after the Supreme Court upheld a writ of prohibition from the Brumskine’s LP, restraining the NEC from conducting the polls until complaints filed to the body were duly looked into and disposed off.