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Calls For Calm as Liberia Counts Presidential Votes


Staff organize ballot boxes and election materials as they are brought in from polling stations after counting at a National Election Commission warehouse in Monrovia, Liberia, October 12, 2011.

Staff organize ballot boxes and election materials as they are brought in from polling stations after counting at a National Election Commission warehouse in Monrovia, Liberia, October 12, 2011.

Vote counting is underway in Liberia's presidential election after a day of peaceful voting Tuesday. Nobel Peace Prize winner and incumbent President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf is facing a tough fight for re-election, in the country's second polls since the end of Liberia's civil war.

Liberia's National Election Commission says ballots from Tuesday's vote are being sorted and counted, with the first provisional results expected Thursday afternoon.

If none of the 16 candidates wins an outright majority, there will be a second-round run off between the top two finishers, who most election observes expect to be President Sirleaf and former justice minister Winston Tubman.

As Liberians await those results, political leaders are calling on their supporters to stay calm.

Tony Kollie, an election monitor for Tubman's Congress for Democratic Change party,says voters should not get too caught up in unofficial results that are being reported by some local radio stations.

"We just want to say this to all Liberians, let them know that Liberia is our common patrimony that which we always stand to defend as a people and state,” said Kollie.

Peter Logan is a youth leader for President Sirleaf's Unity Party. While unofficial results show her leading the field, Logan says the most important outcome for this vote is peace.

"Notwithstanding the Unity Party is in the lead, we are asking all partisans of Unity Party and those of the opposition, let them remain calm," he said. "We don't want any disturbances as we all will wait that the official result will be coming out. So we just pray and asking every Liberian to be calm until the official result can come out tomorrow. If there is any problem that will occur, this country will go ten times backwards.”

It is an important vote for a country in which nearly 250,000 people were killed in the civil war that ended in 2003. National reconciliation was a big part of presidential campaigning, as Liberia hopes to attract new investors.

"We all should accept whatsoever results that will come forth be it Unity Party, CDC, NDUP or any other one," said Alfred Toe, a district leader for the National Union for Democratic Progress party, whose presidential candidate is the former rebel leader and current Senator Prince Johnson. "Liberia is not only owned by one person. Today you may vote Unity Party, vote CDC or whosoever. But we should be looking at one thing. And that one thing is Liberia.”

International election observers say voter turnout was high with no major irregularities reported.

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