Liberia Supreme Court Rescues Electoral Process
Liberia would have had a new popularly elected President for three months now to replace the 12-year rule of incumbent Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. Presidential and House of Representatives elections were held on October 10th.
But three months, down the line, the electoral process suffered legal setback, no thanks to the third finisher, Charles Brumskine of the Liberty Party.
Brumskine sued the electoral umpire, claiming irregularities in the electoral process and demanding cancellation of the whole process.
But the Liberia’s supreme court today cleared the way for a presidential run-off election to take place between George Weah and incumbent Vice President, Joseph Boakai. The court ruled on Thursday that it had not found enough evidence of fraud to halt the whole process.
The judges made the ruling with a 4-1 majority. “In the absence of sufficient evidence, the court cannot order a re-run of the election,” Justice Philip Banks said, reading out the court’s decision.
“There were over 5,000 polling places, (so) to present evidence of just a few is problematic,” the judge said. “The evidence should have (shown) … that they were committed in such magnitude that they could have altered the results.”
Weah, ex-footballer will now face Boakai in an election that could mark Liberia’s first peaceful transition of power in seven decades. The winner of round two will replace Nobel Peace Prize laureate Ellen Johnson Sirleaf as leader of the small West African country, one of the world’s poorest despite abundant diamonds and iron ore.
The first election was won by George Weah, who, however, polled less than 50 per cent of the votes required for an outright victory.
Mr. Weah, the world footballer of the year in 1995, was set for a run-off with Boakai, who polled about 30 per cent of votes cast to come second in the first poll.
The court had said the run-off remained suspended until the National Elections Commission investigates Mr. Brumskine’s claims.
Mr. Brumskine alleged that the elections were faced with “serious gross irregularities and fraud that undercut the integrity of the process as well as denying voters their constitutional rights to vote.”
“The preliminary results released by authorities of the National Elections Commissions (NEC) are not valid, because we at the LP have evidence to prove our case,” he said.