Liberians Vote in Second Post-War Election

Posted October 11th, 2011 at 7:55 am (UTC-5)
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Liberians lined up in the rain to vote Tuesday in national elections, marking the second time Liberians have voted since the end of a 14-year civil war.

Many voters arrived at polling stations overnight so they could be among the first to cast ballots in the closely-fought presidential poll.

President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf is facing a tough fight for a second term, just days after receiving the Nobel Peace Prize.

She is running against more than a dozen opponents, with her stiffest competition coming 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 President Sirleaf has failed to repair the ravages of war or bring down high levels of poverty and unemployment.

Supporters say she has maintained peace and erased billions of dollars in foreign debt.

Liberians also are voting in legislative elections.

The country's election commission says it will begin releasing initial results on Wednesday, and will announce the final results on October 26. If no candidate wins an outright majority, a run-off will be held.

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.

Opponents also criticize Mrs. Sirleaf for her record during the civil war, when she for a time backed warlord and former President Charles Taylor.

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.