Liberia's governing party backs election challenge
By JONATHAN PAYE-LAYLEH
Oct. 30, 2017
MONROVIA, Liberia (AP) — Liberia's governing party has joined other political parties and backed a statement challenging the election results and alleging the president attempted to influence the outcome of voting.
The Unity Party, with two other parties, in a statement Sunday cited irregularities in the electoral process, including a meeting between President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and officials with the National Election Commission. The statement alleged that Sirleaf directly interfered with the electoral process.
Unity Party candidate Vice President Joseph Boakai came in second in the first round of elections in October and faces George Weah in a Nov. 7 election runoff. The two were among 20 candidates running to succeed Sirleaf, Africa's first democratically elected female president.
"Before the polls — and throughout the campaigning period — we raised alarm bells about what was becoming direct interference with the electoral process by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, who any reasonable mind would have thought should by now be preoccupied with allowing a genuine transitional process," the statement said.
The parties said they were "concerned about what appears to be a ploy to veer Liberia off from the path of peace," adding "none of us had the slightest thought that a president who was democratically elected twice would endeavor to create discord."
Though Sirleaf has said more than twice that she supports her 72-year-old vice president, some ruling party members say she supports international soccer star Weah. The statement was issued Sunday just as President Sirleaf was attending a church service in Monrovia to mark her 79th birthday.
The statement, read by the chairman of the governing party, Wilmot Paye, declared a vote of no confidence in the electoral body saying it "cannot conduct any free, fair and transparent presidential election runoff in the wake of increasing and disturbing reports of alleged massive fraud."
Liberia's Information Minister Eugene Nagbe hit back at the political parties that issued the statement, saying the president "has always performed her constitutional responsibility to ensure that we do have a peaceful transition, and that the will of the people of Liberia prevails."
Nagbe refuted the parties' allegations that the president has interfered in the electoral process to manipulate the outcome, calling the statement untrue.
"The president has said over and over again that as a member of Unity Party, she will continue to support Vice President Boakai, and she has demonstrated that in every way without compromising her role as the leader of the country," he said.