The Petition for a Writ of Prohibition, in question, was brought by the Movement for Progressive Change (MPC) political party as first Petitioner, and United States Diaspora Liberians, Abraham G. Massaley and Sayku Kromah as second Petitioners. Prohibition is a writ asked of the Supreme Court to stop someone or an organization from doing something. In asking for this writ, the petitioners basically sought to have the Court exclude President Ellen Sirleaf and several other presidential candidates from the elections of 2011. Their petition was grounded in the constitutional bar of people who have not stayed for 10 years in Liberia prior to the elections in which they intend to stand. Article 52 of the Liberian Constitution states in full that: “No person shall be eligible to hold the office of President or Vice President, unless that person is: “a) a natural born Liberian citizen of not less than 35 years of age; “b) the owner of unencumbered real property valued at not less than twenty five thousand dollars; and “c) resident in the Republic ten years prior to his election, provided that the President and the Vice President shall not come from the same County.” The Petitioners alleged that several of the 16 candidates certified by the National Elections Commission to contest the presidential poll fell short of meeting the Article 52(c) standard laid out by the Constitution since none of the said aspirants had resided in Liberia for ten “consecutive” years leading up to the October 2011 elections. The petition, if successful, would have barred President Ellen Sirleaf from seeking reelection. It would have also barred Cllr. Charles Brumskine, Cllr. Winston Tubman, Mr. Prince Y. Johnson and several other candidates from standing. It would have blown the presidential elections wide open and most likely thrown the process into disarray. Despite this fact, the petitioners were in their right to pose the constitutional challenge to the candidates in question. The Court’s ruling rode on two main issues. The first was the interpretation of the residency requirements: whether it meant consecutive or accumulative 10 years of residency. Depending on whether the first issue was decided to be consecutive, the court then had to decide whether the challenged candidates should be barred from contesting. The Court summed this up as “...whether the ten-year residency clause for presidential and vice-presidential candidates contesting the Presidential and General Elections, stipulated in Article 52(c) of the Constitution, although not specifically stating the word “consecutive”, means ten consecutive years prior to the election of a person to the presidency, and whether this provision applies to the 2011 presidential and general elections?” The Court noted that Article 52 (c) was open to multiple interpretations and cited the varying positions provided by the petitioners and the respondents on how it should be viewed. Taking into consideration the intent of the framers of the Constitution, the Supreme Court held that Article 52 (c), as was intended by the framers of the Constitution during the Constitution Advisory Committee sittings, means 10 consecutive years prior to standing for the office of president and vice president. What this ruling means, in effect, is that anyone wishing to run for president of Liberia cannot be a political carpetbagger as has been the case in every elections conducted in Liberia since 1997. If the Court had stopped at this ruling, the presidential elections would have had a totally different outcome in 2011. But the Court went a step further to consider the circumstances which led to many people being absent from the country – the state of anarchy which enveloped Liberia intermittently for 14 years between 1989 and 2003. The suspension of the Liberian Constitution on two occasions during the era of the civil wars was further relied on by the court to justify why the challenged candidates and all others similarly situated should not be excluded from the elections. The Court said: “We hold that the circumstances at the time justified the course followed and that therefore the provision cannot be said to operate against the respondents. Indeed, given that it was only in January 2006 that constitutional order was restored to Liberia, the provision in question will become operative in January 2016.” What this ruling means is that the elections of 2005 were held outside the Liberian Constitution. Considering that the Constitution was not reinstated until after the inauguration of the Government in January 2006, President Sirleaf’s first term was technically not a constitutional term with respect to the two term limitations placed on presidents in Liberia under Article 50. This ruling effectively left the door open for Mrs. Sirleaf to stand again if she so chooses. Though she is on record for saying that she has no intention of standing for another term, it is worth pointing out that Liberians have heard that promise from her before. If she makes the move, there is sure to be opposition and another legal challenge to the Supreme Court to determine whether her first term constituted a term in office under the constitution. This controversy, the Court could have averted in its ruling of October 5, 2011. There are a few theories which could militate against any move by Mrs. Sirleaf to seek another term in office. One school of thought is that she would have served out her two full constitutionally allowed term by January 2018 when her successor is expected to be inaugurated. This position relies on the fact that not all provisions of the Constitution were suspended between 2003 and January 2006. Another school of thought suggests that President Sirleaf would technically be opening herself and her government up to legal challenges were she to assert that her first term was not a constitutional term. As per the legal principle of equitable estoppel, she would not be entitled to the immunity provided her under Article 61 of the Constitution if she asserts this argument. Equitable estoppel is where a party would be stopped from asserting a legal claim or defense that is inconsistent with her prior action or conduct. It is hoped it does not come to another Supreme Court decision on presidential candidacy. In the next 18 months, Liberians and the world will get to know once the third term calls start flying around or not.