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Liberian Opposition Party Threatens to Boycott Presidential Run-Off


Presidential opposition candidate Winston Tubman speaks to supporters at a rally in Monrovia, Liberia, October 16, 2011.

Presidential opposition candidate Winston Tubman speaks to supporters at a rally in Monrovia, Liberia, October 16, 2011.

Liberia's main opposition party is threatening to boycott a run-off election against President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf because it says the elections commission rigged results from the first round of voting.

Former Liberian justice minister Winston Tubman finished second in this month's presidential poll, lining him up for a run-off against President Sirleaf because no candidate won more than half the votes.

But Tubman's Congress for Democratic Change party says it will not take part in that run-off unless elections commission chairman James Fromayan is replaced. The party says Fromayan helped rig results to give President Sirleaf a first-round lead.

Party official Jeremiah Robertson said the reasons for a CDC boycott are clear.

"We do not trust the election commission chairperson. We do not have confidence in him. He is a supporter of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. For that reason, the CDC will not contest the run-off election until the chairperson is changed,” said Robertson.

Fromayan has supported President Sirleaf in the past, but said his work on the elections commission is politically neutral.

Observers from the U.S.-based Carter Center and the Economic Community of West African States say the vote was largely free and fair.

Sirleaf says Liberian law, not political threats, will determine what happens in the second round.

"The referee in this case is the constitution. The referee in this case is the National Elections Commission. Whatever they say, that is the rule. We will abide by it. We will be lawful. We will be peaceful. And we will follow the constitution and the laws.”

Former presidential candidate Togba Nah Tipoteh said Tubman's CDC party should first pursue proper legal challenges to the vote, starting with the elections commission.

"If that party were to be unsatisfied with what transpires, what takes place in the elections commission, that party has the right to proceed directly to the Supreme Court of Liberia. And this is absolutely important for us to maintain a non-violent posture as we've just come from a most devastating civil war where the overwhelming cry of the people of Liberian remains: 'We want peace. No more war,'” said Tipoteh.

President Sirleaf has won the endorsement of the third-place finisher, the former rebel leader and current senator Prince Johnson. Their combined share of the vote from the first round is greater than the absolute majority she needs to win re-election.




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