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Liberia Vote Valid Despite Opposition Pull-Out, Election Commission Says


National Elections Commission Chairman James Fromayan (C) delivers the first results of Liberia's presidential election during a news conference in Monrovia, October 13, 2011.

National Elections Commission Chairman James Fromayan (C) delivers the first results of Liberia's presidential election during a news conference in Monrovia, October 13, 2011.

Liberia's electoral commission says the credibility of last week's presidential vote is not undermined by eight opposition parties refusing to recognize its results. Opponents of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf are calling for peaceful protest Sunday after pulling out of a process that they say is being rigged to assure the president's re-election.

Eight opposition parties say vote totals announced by Liberia's National Electoral Commission are “null and void” because officials are manipulating results to favor Sirleaf. They say they will not accept the results if the vote count continues now that they have withdrawn their party agents from the electoral commission.

Among those joining the opposition withdrawal are the current second- and third-place finishers: former Justice Minister Winston Tubman and former rebel leader and current Senator Prince Johnson.

Tubman is accusing Sirleaf supporters of stuffing ballot boxes. Election observers from the Carter Center and the Economic Community of West African States say the vote was largely free and fair.

National Electoral Commission Chairman James Fromayan says the opposition pull-out has no bearing on what has already been done.

“The point where we have reached, one cannot say that they are disengaging because all the parties participated in the election. The counting was done. And both the local population and the international observers who came, they all acclaimed the process to be free, fair, and transparent.”

Fromayan says there are clear procedures for challenging results in court. But he is not going to stop reading vote totals just because some opposition parties walk out.

“If you do leave, it doesn't declare the process null and void. It doesn't propose any credibility problem because the process has been very transparent, as you can see. And we believe that anyone who has a complaint, the procedure is there laid down for such complaints to be addressed.”

With 80 percent of ballots counted, Sirleaf has more than 44 percent of the vote. Tubman has more than 31 percent. Johnson has just over 11 percent. If those trends continue, President Sirleaf will finish short of the absolute majority needed to win outright and avoid a second-round run-off.

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