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Liberian Election Commission Chief Resigns


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.

The chairman of Liberia's electoral commission resigned Sunday because of threats by the country's leading opposition party to boycott November's presidential runoff. The opposition says there must be other changes before it will agree to take part in the vote.

National Election Commission Chairman James Fromayan says he stepped down so Liberia's main opposition party would not have an excuse to boycott the second round of presidential voting.

In his resignation letter, Fromayan said he is leaving “to give way to peace” because he does not want to be the obstacle to holding a runoff between incumbent President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and the former justice minister Winston Tubman.

Mr. Tubman's Congress for Democratic Change party, or CDC, accused Fromayan of manipulating the vote in favor of President Sirleaf and said it would not take part in a November 8 runoff, if Fromayan continued to head the electoral commission.

CDC Secretary General Acarous Gray calls Fromayan's resignation a step forward. But he says the boycott stands because not all of the party's demands have been met. “The CDC is calling for a recount of the presidential balloting. We are saying that we must investigate the evidence that we provided, the pictures and video evidence we provided. If the concerns are not addressed, then we don't see the CDC participating in the election," he said.

Gray says the party has photographic evidence of ballot boxes that were tampered with and tally sheets that had their numbers changed.

Electoral observers from the Carter Center and the Economic Community of West African States say the vote was largely free and fair.

President Sirleaf backed the work of the electoral commission and said she saw no reason for Fromayan to resign. Now that he has, attorney Elizabeth Nelson takes charge of the electoral commission with a little more than a week to finish preparations to conclude Liberia's second post-war election.

U.N. peacekeepers remain in the country. The Security Council is stressing “the importance of peaceful, credible, and transparent elections.”

President Sirleaf heads to the runoff with the backing of the third place finisher, senator and former rebel leader, Prince Johnson.

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