Liberia’s Supreme Court has ordered the West African country’s electoral commission to resolve allegations of fraud in the first round of presidential election before a scheduled run-off vote can be held.
Supreme Court Chief Justice Francis Korkpor said on Monday that the National Elections Commission (NEC) was prohibited “from conducting the run-off vote until the complaint filed by the petitioners is investigated.”
The judge went on to urge the Commission to hear the Liberty Party’s complaint lodged on October 23 and resolve it with “urgent attention,” given the “critical” nature of the presidential vote.
“By setting a date and proceeding to conduct a run-off election without first clearing the complaint of the petitioners which alleged gross irregularities and fraud, the NEC was proceeding contrary to rules which are to be adhered to at all times,” Korkpor added.
The Supreme Court last week halted preparations while it examined charges by third-place finisher Charles Brumskine’s Liberty Party that the October 10 first round was marred by fraud.
The ruling comes as former soccer star George Weah and Vice President Joseph Boakai are competing to succeed President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate whose election in 2005 helped draw a line under 14 years of civil war.
The vote is meant to mark Liberia’s first democratic transition of power since 1944.
The court on Monday also found that the NEC had acted contrary to the law in declaring Weah and Boakai the top two candidates in the first round election.
The court did not order a new date for the vote, which was originally to be contested on Tuesday. The date can only be decided by the electoral commission, once the complaint is resolved.
Weah won the first round of voting with 38.4 percent to Boakai’s 28.8 percent. Brumskine won nearly 10 percent.