MONROVIA, Liberia's governing party on Sunday launched a formal protest against the results officially released for the first round of voting in this month's presidential election in which its candidate finished runner-up.
The governing Unity Party accused President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, who became Africa's first female president on its platform, of meddling in the electoral process and favoring the opposition party.
The governing party's chairman, Wilmont Paye, said the political group backs the petition launched earlier by the Labor Party, an opposition party, saying the election was "characterized by massive systematic irregularities and fraud."
The governing party said it would work with other opposition parties such as the Labor Party to reach "a logical legal conclusion as quickly as permissible" under Liberian law, further alleging "widespread and systematic fraud (and) incompetence that prevented legitimate voters from casting ballots."
The Unity Party accused Sirleaf of meeting polling officials at her residence ahead of the first round of voting. The National Election Commission has announced that a run-off will be held Nov. 7.
Opposition Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) candidate George Weah, who is the front-runner, and vice president Joseph Boakai of the governing party will take part in the run-off. "It doesn't mean we will not take part in the run-off," the Unity Party said.
"We hope the court can rule before the run-off. If not, we will decide what next to do."President Sirleaf has yet to respond to the accusations against her by the governing party.
The Liberian electoral body has said it would respond to petitions as quickly as possible and urged parties to feel free to challenge the commission's decision at the Supreme Court if they were not satisfied.
Weah is leading the presidential race with 38.4 percent of the vote to Boakai's 28.8 percent.
The opposition candidate was last Thursday endorsed by former Liberian warlord Prince Johnson, also a presidential hopeful, who won 8 percent of the vote in the first round.