Runoff Election on Hold: Court Rules in Favor of Liberty Party

MONROVIA, Montserrado – The Supreme Court has finally ruled on a request for a writ of prohibition filed by Liberty Party, ordering the National Elections Commission to hold off on holding a runoff election until fraud claims brought by the party are investigated.

Liberty Party had asked for a halt to the presidential runoff election between the Unity Party and the Coalition for Democratic Change slated for November 7.

Following the October 10 polls, Liberty Party had said the process was marred by irregularities and fraud, necessitating a rerun of the election.

The party initially filed its complaint before the National Elections Commission and proceeded to the Supreme Court while those claims were still being investigated by NEC.

A writ of prohibition was filed before Associate Justice Kabineh Ja’neh and a decision was taken to put a stay order on any and all actions in respect of the November 7 presidential runoff election.

On Friday, November 3, after the full bench of the Supreme Court listened to arguments between lawyers representing Liberty Party and NEC, the court reserved ruling on the petition for Monday, November 6.

Charles Walker Brumskine, the standard bearer for Liberty Party who defended his party’s argument on Friday, was not present at Monday’s ruling.

The judges directed Harrison Karnwea, vice standard bearer, and Benjamin Sanvee, the party’s chairman, to return to NEC for their case to be investigated.

Ben Sanvee, chairman of Liberty Party. Photo: Zeze Ballah

The ruling means that the presidential runoff election slated for November 7 will not take place and a new date will only be set once Liberty Party’s complaint is investigated by NEC.

Following the court’s ruling, Sanvee lauded Unity Party, the All Liberian Party, the Alternative National Congress, and other political actors who stood in solidarity with his party.

“This is about Liberia and not the Liberty Party,” he said.

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.

“The court has demonstrated such,” he said. “Until the rule of law is respected in Liberia, holding a runoff or any election is irrelevant.”

Wilmot Paye, chairman of Unity Party. Photo: Zeze Ballah

Following the Supreme Court ruling, there were shouts of joy from Liberty Party supporters who had gathered at the party’s headquarter on Tubman Boulevard in the township of Congo Town.

Featured photo by Zeze Evans Ballah

Zeze Ballah

Zeze made his journalism debut as a high school reporter at the LAMCO Area School System. In 2016 and 2017, the Press Union of Liberia awarded Zeze with the Photojournalist of the Year award. Zeze was also the union's 2017 Health Reporter of the Year. He is a Health Journalism Fellow with Internews.

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