Liberia party submits complaint over alleged vote fraud

Supporters of George Weah, former soccer player and presidential candidate of Congress for Democratic Change (CDC), celebrate after the announcement of the presidential election results on the radio, in Monrovia, Liberia October 19, 2017. REUTERS/Thierry Gouegnon

DAKAR (Reuters) - The Liberty Party that placed third in the first round of Liberia’s presidential elections on Monday submitted a complaint to the elections commission (NEC), calling for it to annul the result won by former soccer star George Weah, the document showed.

If the contents of the Liberty Party (LP) complaint, which was seen by Reuters, are deemed valid, it could force a re-run of what is expected to be the West African country’s first democratic transfer of power since 1944. Its candidate lawyer Charles Brumskine placed third after Weah placed first and the ruling party’s Joseph Boakai second.

The complaint was filed by the presidential and vice-presidential candidates as well as all representative candidates of the Liberty Party.

International observers, including The Carter Center and the National Democratic Institute, said they did not see any major problems with the vote.

In its complaint, the Liberty Party alleges various problems ranging from the late opening of polls to the absence of queue controllers but also included fraud allegations, including by NEC officials.

NEC officials were not immediately available outside of normal office hours.

In one case, the LP alleges that an NEC officer had pre-marked ballots in his possession. In another, the LP said an official misrepresented the number of ballots for the party’s candidate.

“These elections were characterized by gross irregularities and fraud, which undermined the integrity of the elections and deprived thousands of Liberians of their constitutional right to vote,” the document said.

The second round run-off is scheduled for next month.

Reporting by Emma Farge; editing by Diane Craft