Liberia Supreme Court suspends presidential run-off election

George Weah former soccer player and presidential candidate of Congress for Democratic Change, votes at a polling station in Monrovia

The fraud allegations were lodged by leader of the Liberty Party (LP) Charles Walker Brumskine, who placed third in the vote.

The extraordinary delay in electing Liberia's new leader amid claims of electoral fraud is entrenching existing divides between the candidates and outgoing President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, as voters wait nervously for a resolution.

"The NEC (National Elections Commission) is stopped and prohibited from conducting the run off election until the complaint filed by the petitions is investigated by the NEC", the Supreme Court ruling said.

Liberia's Supreme Court halted the presidential election runoff, which had been scheduled for Tuesday, until the National Elections Commission investigates allegations of irregularities and fraud in the first round.

A polling agent counts the ballots for the Liberian presidential election at a polling station in Monrovia, Liberia October 10, 2017.

It did not order a new date for the vote, which was originally to be contested on Tuesday by former global footballer George Weah and incumbent vice-president Joseph Boakai.

The election was due to be Liberia's first democratic transition in seven decades, and west African leaders met with all sides of the conflict on Wednesday in an attempt to ease the crisis.

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

Wilmot Paye, the chairman of Unity Party, said his party's leadership is glad because the responsibility of upholding democracy rests with the Supreme Court.

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

The Supreme Court is generally respected in Liberia, but many want the potentially destabilising delay resolved sooner rather than later in a country which still has acute memories of back-to-back 1989-2003 civil wars.

The court case comes at a tense moment in Liberian politics, as Brumskine and Boakai have both accused Sirleaf of "interference" in the elections and of secretly supporting Weah over her own vice-president, claims she has strongly denied.

Boakai is also believed to have fallen out with his boss over her absence from the campaign trail, while supporters whisper that she prefers Weah, and the vice-president says he is in contact with Sirleaf "as and when she finds it necessary".



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