MONROVIA: Liberia’s ruling United Party said on Friday it would not appeal the top court’s rejection of its legal challenge to delay an upcoming presidential run-off vote, seen as a crucial test to the crisis-hit country’s stability.

The party of Vice-President Joseph Boakai, one of the two contenders in the December 26 ballot, filed the request last week after calling into question the official election body’s integrity.

But the Supreme Court on Thursday dismissed the party’s demand that parliament be given the power to set a new vote date.

“The Supreme Court has decided, what can we say? Nothing. We have taken note, and we will go to the election,” Unity Party spokesman Mohammed Ali told AFP Friday.

An EU observers’ mission said the court’s decision reflected that the National Elections Commission (NEC) had “acted in accordance with the constitution”.

It was the ruling party’s second such challenge against the NEC since the first round of voting on October 10, in which Boakai trailed Liberian football star George Weah by almost 10 points.

Following the poor performance, the vice-president filed a complaint in late October alleging that “massive fraud and irregularities” had marred the vote.

That complaint was also ultimately denied by the court in a 5-1 ruling, which said it lacked evidence to prove the allegations.

Boakai and ex-international footballer Weah are now expected to go head-to-head in a run-off triggered after no single candidate gained more than 50 per cent of the vote on October 10.

The winner will replace Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, who is standing down after two terms as Africa’s first elected female leader.

The vote is seen as a crucial test of Liberia’s stability after back-to-back civil wars between 1989 and 2003 and an Ebola crisis that killed thousands from 2014 to 2016.

It would represent Liberia’s first democratic transfer of power in more than seven decades.

Liberia ranks 177 of 188 countries in the UN’s Human Development Index, and the new president faces an economy battered by slumped commodity prices.