Liberia’s Second Post-War Election Peaceful

Posted October 11th, 2011 at 4:25 pm (UTC-5)
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Voting has wrapped up peacefully in Liberia's national elections, the second since the end of a 14-year civil war.

Election observers told VOA that voting had proceeded smoothly despite heavy rains in some parts of the country.

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 would choose his party, saying it had 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 cast votes for the Senate and House of Representatives.

The country's election commission said it would begin releasing initial results on Wednesday and would 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 last 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 criticized 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.