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

Video On The Scene: In Gaza, Darkness Brings Dread and Death

Palestinians fear nighttime bombardment, VOA correspondent finds More

African Small Farmers Could Be Key to Ending Food Insecurity

Experts say providing access to microloans, crop insurance, better storage facilities, irrigation, road systems and market information could enable greater production More

University of Michigan Wins Solar Car Race

Squad guided its student-designed solar-powered vehicle to fifth consecutive time victory in eight-day bi-annual American Solar Challenge 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.
Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spati
X
Reasey Poch
July 28, 2014 7:18 PM
China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video ESA Spacecraft to Land on a Comet

After a long flight through deep space, a European Space Agency probe is finally approaching its target -- a comet millions of kilometers away from earth. Scientists say the mission may lead to some startling discoveries about the origins of the water on earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Africans Arrive in US for Leadership Program

President Barack Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative has brought hundreds of young Africans to the United States for a six-week program aimed at building their knowledge and skills in fields such as public administration and business. Out of the 50,000 young Africans who applied for the program, just one percent was accepted. VOA's Laurel Bowman caught up with some of those who made the cut and has this report.
Video

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surges

False rumors in Central America are fueling the current surge of undocumented young people being apprehended at the U.S. border. The inaccurate claims suggest the U.S. will give amnesty to young migrants from the region. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Honduras, these rumors trace back to President Obama's 2012 executive order to halt deportations for some young undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid