Counting is underway in the west African country of Liberia following voting in crucial run off elections on Tuesday.
The winner will replace two-term incumbent and Nobel Peace Laureate Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf.
Contestants are incumbent Vice President of the ruling Unity Party (UP) Joseph Boakai and former international football star turned Senator George Weah of the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC)
Both candidates cast their votes earlier on Tuesday and each said they were confident of winning. President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf voted in Bomi County, her hometown.
The polls are being observed by local and international organizations and community who, late on Tuesday, said the polls were better organized than the first round. The voting passed of peacefully. across the country.
The BBC reports that turn out was relatively low compared to the first round on October 10th. Nearly two million Liberians were eligible to vote in the run-off which will see the peaceful transfer of state power in over 70 years..
The country’s electoral body is expected to announced the results later this week, The new President will be inaugurated in January.
Philadelphia, PA USA – Reports from the Liberian capital Monrovia say four political parties in the small West African nation have been holding “merger talks” in order to support incumbent Vice President Joseph Boakai against his Presidential challenger and leader of the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) Senator George Weah.
According to a senior source with knowledge of the matter, the merger discussion took place Tuesday, November 7th, the same day planned for run off elections between the two contenders who are hoping to succeed President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf who is stepping down after two full terms.
The talks include the Liberty Party(LP) led by Senator Charles Walker Brumskine whose party filed a petitition with the country’s highest court complaining of “fraud and irregularities” in the October 10th Presidential and General Elections and to stop the run- off elections between incumbent Vice President Joseph Boakai of the ruling Unity Party (UP) and Senator George Weah of the CDC.
According to party Chairman of the ruling UP Mr. Robert Kpadeh, ” …What you see today is a strong signal to the world that they are coming together to fight for democracy.”We strongly believe that Weah cannot run this country.”
The UP official did not definitely state who the four political parties are that are holding “merger talks.”
The Liberian Supreme Court has come under criticism for halting the run-off elections’; a situation which could potentially lead to a constitutional crisis, if a new date is not set for the run-off elections and the inauguration of a new President when incumbent President Johnson Sirleaf’s term ends in January. The Supreme Court issued a ruling on Monday which effectively halted the run-off elections and instructed the National Elections to expeditiously handle the complaint of the Liberty Party before a new run-off date can be set.
Vice President Joseph Boakai, the candidate of the ruling Party told the AFP, “I had doubts the NEC was competent enough to administer an election that would be free, fair and transparent.” The party itself has accused President Johnson-Sirleaf of interference in the electoral process.
The Unity Party and Alternative National Congress (ANC) have thrown their support behind the Liberty Party’s petition which cites irregularities and fraud.
The emergence of a new coalition front involving the ruling party and other political against parties portends political uncertainty for the immediate future in Liberia including speculation of the installation of an interim government. No political party has so far warmed to the idea of an interim mechanism, citing constitutional succession guarantees.
The CDC says it is concerned that a political crisis could erupt if the Supreme Court annuls the result of the October 10th elections. “We are concerned about attempts by certain members of the Supreme Court’s bench to mis- or wrongfully interpret our constitution, with the view of now creating a constitutional crisis,” CDC Chairman Nathaniel McGill told Bloomberg News by phone. “The election should proceed, that’s what we hope for.”
Philadelphia, PA USA: A potential Constitutional crisis is looming in the small West African nation of Liberia with a ruling overnight by the high court halting preparations for the run-elections scheduled for November 7th.The opposition Liberty Party (LP) in a petition filed with the Supreme Court alleged “fraud and irregularities” in the first round of Presidential and General Elections held on October 10th.
Unless the LP can obtain a favorable disposition of their petition and a scheduled re-run of the elections in time to allow for the inauguration of a new Administration, incumbent President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf will remain in office past her constitutional term which ends in January.
The Supreme Court has requested the petitioners, the Liberty Party and counsels for the National Elections Commission (NEC) to appear on Thursday for a hearing. According to the Court, the temporary stay on the pending run-off does not invalidate the results of the October 10th Presidential contest.
The Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) led by Senator George Weah came in with 38.4 percent of the votes compared to incumbent Vice President Joseph Boakai of the ruling Unity Party at 28.8 percent. Both candidates are slated to contest the run-off elections.
Justices of the Supreme Court deliberated late into Tuesday on the LP’s petition and issued the ruling which in effect halts preparation for the run-off elections pending a full hearing into the merits of the petition.
The ruling Unity Party (UP) of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and the Alternative National Congress (ANC) say they back the position of the Liberty Party.
Three political parties including the All Liberian Party(ALP), the ruling Unity Party (UP) and the lead petitioner in the case Liberty Party (LP) , in a statement issued on Sunday in Monrovia, allege that fraud, interference and irregularities were widespread in the October 10th elections. The Alternative National Congress (ANC) says it supports the Liberty Party (LP) in its petition now pending before the Supreme Court.
President Johnson-Sirleaf’s own party has accused her of interfering with the elections process, surreptitiously meeting with the head of the electoral body and withholding a full throated endorsement of her Vice President Joseph Boakai who is one of many candidates seeking to replace her.
President Johnson-Sirleaf has rejected the accusations of personal “interference.” Social media is abuzz with various reactions from Liberians; from conspiracy theories of plans to install an interim government to sentiments that the ruling party is maneuvering to remain in office indefinitely.
Reports from Monrovia say police are patrolling areas in the capital Monrovia and there is heavy security presence around the Temple of Justice, the seat of the high court and the offices of the National Elections Commission (NEC).
There is an unusual quietude around Monrovia.
The National Elections Commission says it will abide by the stay order on preparations for the run-off elections.