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Liberia halts presidential runoff election to investigate fraud allegations

By
Ed Adamczyk
Liberia's Supreme Court, partly photographed here, issued a stay order on Wednesday on next week's presidential runoff election, until allegations of first-round fraud are addressed. Photo courtesy of The Judiciary, Republic of Liberia
Liberia's Supreme Court, partly photographed here, issued a stay order on Wednesday on next week's presidential runoff election, until allegations of first-round fraud are addressed. Photo courtesy of The Judiciary, Republic of Liberia

Nov. 1 (UPI) -- Liberia's Supreme Court halted next week's second round of presidential elections on Wednesday, agreeing to look into allegations of first-round fraud.

The National Elections Commission is expected to file a response with the court by Thursday.

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The court ordered a stay order on "any and all activities" pertinent to the runoff vote, scheduled for Nov. 7. The minority Liberty Party challenged the results of the Oct. 11 vote, which narrowed the field to two candidates. The party filed a complaint with the elections commission, charging fraud and saying that the late opening of polls led to lines of people waiting to vote. Those lines discouraged voters, the party said, and many left without casting a ballot.

In the first round of elections, Candidate George Weah, a former Liberian soccer star, won 38 percent of the vote. Liberian Vice President Joseph Boakai won 29 percent, and Charles Brumskine of the Liberty Party won 10 percent. Incumbent President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf did not run for re-election after 12 years as president.

RELATED Liberians head to polls to replace first African female president

The capital, Monrovia, was calm as Liberians awoke to the news of the election postponement. A heavy police presence patrolled outside the Supreme Court building.

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Liberia is the latest African nation dogged by claims of election fraud. Kenya's Supreme Court annulled an August presidential vote in which fraud was alleged. The election was rescheduled and in October. Uhuru Kenyatta was overwhelmingly elected president after opposition candidate Raila Odinga withdrew. Odinga said no improvements to the voting system were made between the annulled election and the Oct. 26 vote.

RELATED Kenyan opposition candidate Odinga drops out of presidential race

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