News / Africa

8 Opposition Parties Pull Out of Liberian Election

Polling agents count ballots for the Liberian presidential election at a polling station in Monrovia, October 11, 2011.
Polling agents count ballots for the Liberian presidential election at a polling station in Monrovia, October 11, 2011.

In Liberia, eight opposition parties are pulling out of presidential elections after they say Tuesday's vote was fraudulent. Incumbent President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf is leading the vote count but looks to be heading to a second-round run-off.

The eight opposition parties say vote totals announced by Liberia's National Electoral Commission are “null and void” because electoral officials are manipulating results to favor President Sirleaf.

She is leading 15 challengers including former justice minister Winston Tubman and the former rebel leader and current Senator Prince Johnson. The Tubman and Johnson parties are among those who signed Saturday's opposition statement pulling out of the vote.

It called on all party agents to withdraw from their assignments at the electoral commission, saying they will not accept the results if the process continues.

Mr. Tubman is complaining about a lack of security at some polling stations and 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.

The electoral commission is not responding directly to opposition claims of fraud. It is calling on all parties to address complaints through proper legal channels.

Results read by National Electoral Commission Chairman James Fromayan show President Sirleaf with more than 44 percent of the vote. Mr. Tubman has just over 31 percent.

With results from about 80 percent of polling stations reported, President Sirleaf is running short of the absolute majority needed to win outright and avoid a second-round run-off.

Mr. Tubman would be her opponent in that second round, but it is not clear what would happen if he refuses to take part in the run-off by rejecting results that show him placing second.

Boycotting a second round would also remove the potential “kingmaking” influence of Mr. Johnson, who has spoken publicly of using his third-place endorsement to gain positions for his party in a new government.

This is Liberia's second national election since the end of a 14-year civil war in 2003. It has been a largely peaceful process so far. An office of the ruling party in a Monrovia suburb was burned early Saturday morning. No one was injured. Police say they are investigating but have made no arrests.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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