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Liberian Candidate Prepares for Second Round of Presidential Polls

In the first round of the Liberian elections, Mrs. Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf came in second to candidate George Weah of the Congress for Democratic Change. In the crowded field of 22 aspirants, neither she nor Mr. Weah garnered more than 50 percent of the vote. As a result, a second and final round between the two will be held within two weeks.

In the interview, Mrs. Johnson-Sirleaf says she is thankful to God and to Liberian voters for allowing her to reach the final round. The Unity Party leader says her party is assessing how it may improve its performance in the forthcoming vote. In retrospect, the Harvard trained economist says her party might have been more "rigorous" in choosing able or appealing candidates for the legislature. She says her campaign might also have been more aggressive in reaching out to market women and young voters -- many of whom voted for Mr. Weah. She says the Unity party is also involved in coalition building with other groups that did not make it to the final around.

Mrs. Johnson-Sirleaf says she wants the campaign leading up to the run-off to free of personal attacks, and to focus strictly on the issues. She says Liberia may be setting an example to others in Africa with the success of the first round of elections -- the first polls since the end of a 14 year civil war in 2003.