One of Liberia’s leading political parties called for a halt in announcing the result of Tuesday’s presidential election, citing irregularities in the vote.
The Liberty Party, whose candidate Charles Brumskine was considered a front-runner to take over from Nobel Peace Prize winner Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, said it would consider taking legal action if the National Elections Commission (NEC) did not act on its demands.
The NEC was originally expected to release preliminary results on Thursday.
“The Liberty Party is deeply troubled by the discovery of numerous incidents of irregularities and fraud that occurred during the elections,” Liberty Party national chairman Benjamin Sanvee said in a statement.
“We are calling on NEC to immediately halt further announcements of election results. If NEC does not cooperate with our request, we will take the appropriate legal action,” he said.
He did not give specific evidence of voter fraud and it was unclear what kind of activity could have altered Tuesday’s vote.
An NEC spokesman told Reuters that it was unaware of the Liberty Party’s complaint and did not say whether the commission believed illegal acts occurred.
On Election Day, materials including ballot boxes arrived late in some locations and some people struggled to find their names on voter rolls, witnesses said, but there was so far no evidence that this was linked to illicit activity.
Any irregularities would taint the results of an election expected to mark the first democratic transfer of power in over seven decades in a country haunted by a civil war that ended nearly 15 years ago.
Liberia, Africa’s oldest modern republic, was founded by freed U.S. slaves in 1847 but its last democratic power transfer dates back to 1943.
Johnson Sirleaf, Africa’s first elected female president, won a surprise victory in 2005 following a post-war transition. She was re-elected in 2011 but is barred from seeking another term.
An earlier report from VOA said Vote counting continues across Liberia following presidential elections that are almost certain to go to a runoff with 20 candidates contesting.
The state-run Liberia Broadcasting System reports Wednesday there likely will be a runoff based on preliminary figures seen by its correspondents.
Unofficial early results announced by the station favored ex-soccer star George Weah of the Coalition for Democratic Change and Vice President Joseph Boakai of the ruling Unity Party.
International observers say Tuesday's vote went smoothly despite late voting starts in some counties.
The new president will replace Africa's first female democratically elected leader, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, who is stepping down after two six-year terms.