Liberia suspends election campaign on eligibility row

Tue Sep 20, 2011 4:28pm GMT
 

MONROVIA (Reuters) - Liberia's Supreme Court suspended campaigning for the October 11 presidential election on Tuesday after a legal challenge to the right of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and five other candidates to run, an election commission official said.

"Yes there has been a stay order enforced by the Supreme Court of Liberia," said the official, adding it was imposed after a challenge to the six candidates' eligibility filed by one local party, the Movement for Progressive Change (MPC).

"We hope to hear from the Supreme Court on Friday or so -- this stay order will affect the timelines we are working on if it continues for a longer time," the official added.

The challenge comes after an August referendum in which Liberian voters rejected plans to delay the election to November, and to alter residency requirements from 10 to five years for presidential candidates.

Rivals argue that Johnson-Sirleaf, who spent time in exile before her first election in 2005, falls foul of current residency rules -- an interpretation she disputes.

Johnson-Sirleaf won international plaudits as Africa's first female head of state after winning her first mandate and has pledged to step up the fight against unemployment if she is elected to a second term.

Liberian lawmakers had proposed changing the election date to make sure the vote missed the rainy season in the minerals-rich nation, which is still healing from a long civil war.

Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf speaks during an interview with Reuters in Monrovia, November 8, 2007, after returning from a trip to the U.S. REUTERS/Christopher Herwig
 
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