By Harrison Arubu
The Supreme Court of Liberia has lifted its stay order on the country’s presidential run-off election earlier billed for Nov. 7.
Ruling on an appeal for a re-run of the first round of elections held on Oct. 10, the apex court said evidence provided by the appellants was insufficient to grant their prayers.
Opposition Liberty Party (LP) and the ruling Unity Party (UP) lodged the appeal after the Board of Commissioners of the National Elections Commission (NEC) dismissed their petitions for lack of evidence.
LP led by Mr Charles Walker Brumskine, who came third in the Oct. 10 elections with less than 10 percent of the votes, took the lead in protesting the election results.
The party claimed that the exercise was marred by massive irregularities and fraud, and thus fell short of the minimum standards of credibility.
In its 4-1 ruling, the Supreme Court acknowledged that the first round of presidential and legislative elections were, to some extent, characterised by fraud, irregularities and disregard of the New Elections Law.
But the court held that the appellants failed to establish that such malpractices were on a scale that warrants a rerun of the entire elections.
Associate Justice Philip Banks read the ruling on behalf of the five-man Supreme Court Bench, according to local media.
However, as precondition for the run-off election, the court ordered NEC to fully comply with the standards of publications of the voter register known as the Final Register Roll (FRR) in accordance with law.
It also mandated the electoral body to conduct a full cleanup of the FRR to have it comply wit the provision of the law.
The FRR is to be available in published hard copies to all Election Magistrates and polling places across the country in accordance with law prior to the conduct of the run-off election.
NEC was also ordered not to allow anyone whose name is not in the FRR to vote during the runoff.
The apex court noted that the FRR is the only electoral document that speaks to the eligibility of voters.
“Poll watchers, who did not register at their places of assignment and those whose names are not in the FRR should not be allowed to vote,” the court ruled.
It also prohibited the Chairman and members of the Board of Commissioners of NEC and other employees of commission from public utterances and pronouncements relating to any matter that may emanate from the run-off.
Meanwhile, NEC is expected to announce a date for the second round, which would be between the two leading candidates, football icon George Weah and incumbent Vice President Joseph Boakai.