Liberians Prepare to Vote in Second Post-War Elections

Posted October 10th, 2011 at 4:55 pm (UTC-5)
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Liberians are preparing to head to the polls for just the second time since the end of their 14-year civil war.

President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf is seeking a second term in Tuesday's vote, just days after receiving the Nobel Peace Prize.

Despite the prestigious international honor, Mrs. Sirleaf is facing a tough fight for re-election. The Liberian leader is running against more than a dozen opponents, and her stiffest competition comes from a ticket that includes football star George Weah.

Weah came in second in 2005, and this time he is running for vice president alongside Winston Tubman, who, like Mrs. Sirleaf, is a Harvard graduate.

The opposition charges that Mrs. Sirleaf has failed to repair the ravages of war after nearly six years in power. They point to the still war-damaged infrastructure and poverty and unemployment levels that remain overwhelmingly high. Opponents also criticize Mrs. Sirleaf for her record during the civil war, when she for a time backed warlord and former President Charles Taylor.

If no candidate wins an outright majority, a run-off will be held.

Liberians also will be voting in legislative elections.

Critics have questioned the timing of Friday's announcement of the Nobel prize, which Ms. Sirleaf won along with two other women. They say it could provide an unfair boost.

The Liberian leader has come under fire for ignoring last year's recommendations by Liberia's Truth and Reconciliation Commission that she should be banned from public office for 30 years for her support of Mr. Taylor. He is on trial at the International Criminal Court in the Hague for war crimes charges in neighboring Sierra Leone.

Mrs. Sirleaf has acknowledged providing financing to Mr. Taylor but says she stopped when she became aware of his brutal tactics.

Tubman is a nephew of former Liberian President William Tubman.