Liberians Vote in Second Post-War Election

Posted October 11th, 2011 at 11:35 am (UTC-5)
Leave a comment

Liberians endured a steady rain Tuesday to vote in the country's second national elections since the end of a 14-year civil war.

Election observers told VOA that most polling stations opened on time and that voting was proceeding smoothly despite the weather.

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

Mrs. Sirleaf voted in her home village an hour outside the capital of Monrovia Tuesday. Afterward, she acknowledged many Liberians remain poor but said she has a “very good” chance at re-election.

In an interview with VOA, her main rival Winston Tubman predicted voters will choose his party, saying it has the “recipe” to unify the country.

Tubman's vice presidential candidate is George Weah, a former football (soccer) star who finished second to Mrs. Sirleaf in the 2005 presidential election.

Liberians also are casting votes for the Senate and House of Representatives.

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.