News / Africa

Liberian Vote on Schedule Despite Killing at Opposition Protest

Liberian police advance past burning barricade as they chase opposition party supporters in Monrovia, Nov. 7, 2011.
Liberian police advance past burning barricade as they chase opposition party supporters in Monrovia, Nov. 7, 2011.

At least one person is dead in Liberia after fighting between riot police and supporters of an opposition candidate who is boycotting Tuesday's presidential runoff election over allegations of vote fraud. Liberia's government says that poll will go ahead as scheduled.

Liberian riot police stormed the headquarters of the opposition Congress for Democratic Change party, firing tear gas in running battles with stone-throwing supporters of former Justice Minister Winston Tubman.

He is President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf's challenger in Tuesday's runoff election, but he wants people to boycott that vote because of what he says was electoral fraud in last month's first round of balloting.

Tubman supporter Omar Keita was at party headquarters when the violence began.

“Our standard-bearer called us to the party headquarters to come and assemble and have a peaceful demonstration right in the compound, without getting out there to create a problem for anybody," said Keita.

Keita says that is when they were attacked by Liberia's Emergency Response Unit, or ERU.

“We were in the compound and we only saw the ERU running on us firing, firing, firing, firing," he said.

United Nations peacekeepers stepped in to separate the sides, pushing back Liberian riot police after they continued to fire tear gas into the compound.

Yazmina Bouziane is a spokesperson for the U.N. mission in Liberia:

"We can confirm one casualty, and the mission deplores the loss of life and calls on all of the parties and supporters, and all Liberians actually, to exercise maximum restraint and not resort to violent acts to ensure that peace is maintained in Liberia," said Bouziane.

Deputy information minister Norris Tweh says Monday's violence will not disrupt the vote.

"The government remains committed to the rule of law, and we will err on the side of the law," said Tweh. "The police and the joint security team of this nation is going to be tough, as it has been.  We will not allow this particular incident to distract us from the process.”

The secretary general of Mr. Tubman's party, Acarous Gray, told a local radio station that party members were assassinated by government forces.  Justice Minister Christina Tah called that "nonsense" because, she said, the Liberian government does not conduct assassinations.

"You know we don't get engaged in clandestine operations or secret killings or torturing our people or putting people in jail unnecessarily," said Tah. "So anyone who is on the airwaves or on the radio trying to tell the public this position is really dangerous to this society.”

Tah said government authorities are investigating reports that some of the shooting came from inside the opposition compound.

With tensions high ahead of only the second nationwide vote since the end of a 14-year civil war, Yazmina Bouziane says the United Nations is here to help.

"All registered voters who have decided to cast their votes, or not, should be able to do so in a democratic way and in a peaceful manner," she said. "That is what the mission's mandate is here in Liberia - to ensure peace and security in order for this process to happen.”

President Sirleaf says the opposition boycott violates the constitution because it deprives Liberians of their right to vote.  Mr. Tubman says Liberians have the right not to vote as an expression of displeasure with the government.

He wants the vote postponed, so officials can investigate his party's claim of tampered ballot boxes and falsified tally sheets.  Election observers from the Carter Center and the Economic Community of West African States say last month's vote was largely free and fair.   

You May Like

Ukraine Purges Interior Ministry Leadership With Pro-Russian Ties

Interior Minister Avakov says 91 people 'in positions of leadership' have been fired, including 8 generals found to have links to past pro-Moscow governments More

US Airlines Point to Additional Problems of any Ebola Travel Ban

Airline officials note that even under travel ban, they may not be able to determine where passenger set out from, as there are no direct flights from Liberia, Guinea or Sierra Leone More

Nigerian President to Seek Another Term

Goodluck Jonathan has faced intense criticism for failing to stop Boko Haram militants More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid