Liberian court clears way for presidential run-off vote

Liberia's supreme court cleared
the way for a presidential run-off election, ruling on Thursday
that it had not found enough evidence of fraud to halt the whole
process.

Ex-soccer star George Weah will now face off against
Vice-President Joseph Boakai in a vote that could mark Liberia's
first peaceful transition of power in seven decades.

The court dismissed a complaint from the third-place
finisher Charles Brumskine's Liberty Party, which had said fraud
had undermined the first round of voting in October.

"In the absence of sufficient evidence, the court cannot
order a re-run of the election," Justice Philip Banks said,
reading out the court's decision.

"There were over 5,000 polling places, (so) to present
evidence of just a few is problematic," the judge said. "The
evidence should have (shown) … that they were committed in
such magnitude that they could have altered the results."

The winner of round two will replace Nobel Peace Prize
laureate Ellen Johnson Sirleaf as leader of the small West
African country, one of the world's poorest despite abundant
diamonds and iron ore.

The delays caused by all the legal wrangling have ratcheted
up tensions in a country still recovering from decades of civil
war that killed tens of thousands.

However, a spokesman for the Liberty Party said it would
accept the result.

"If we did not respect the judiciary, we would not have
come," Darius Dillion said. "Liberia has won, our democracy has
won."

Liberians are eager for change after Johnson Sirleaf's
12-year rule, which sealed a lasting peace that many doubted was
possible, but which has failed to tackle corruption or
significantly lift living standards of the country's poorest.

Authorities still have to name a date for the run-off. NEC
spokesman Henry Flomo told reporters outside the court he
believed one could be held in two weeks, but said the date would
be announced shortly.

The judges made the ruling with a 4-1 majority.

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