December 21, 2005

Liberia’s Weah drops challenge over poll defeat

MONROVIA (Reuters) - Liberian soccer star George Weah said
on Wednesday he was dropping his legal challenge to former
World Bank economist Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf's victory in last
month's presidential vote, designed to end years of war.

"I am pleased to announce that the CDC (Weah's party) will
not exercise its option of taking the matter to the Supreme
Court," the former AC Milan striker told reporters in a
prepared statement.

Weah did not explicitly recognize Johnson-Sirleaf's
victory, but made clear he was backing away from formally
contesting the November 8 election result, which has been
endorsed by international observers and foreign governments.

"Our decision is based on our desire to see the Liberian
people achieve durable and genuine peace and have the
opportunity to carry on the business of national recovery and
redemption in an atmosphere of tranquility," Weah said.

His supporters have staged a series of protests against
what they say was fraud in Johnson-Sirleaf's victory. Some of
their protests have sparked violent clashes with police and
U.N. peacekeepers.

Last week, Liberia's electoral authority rejected fraud
allegations by Weah's party, saying the CDC had not provided
enough evidence to support its claim, but its lawyers said they
would take the appeal to the Supreme Court.