Report: Liberian President Holds Slight Election Lead

Posted October 12th, 2011 at 10:15 am (UTC-5)
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A Liberian media report says President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf holds a small lead over her main rival Winston Tubman as votes are counted from Tuesday's elections.

The independent Liberian Media Center said Wednesday that Mrs. Sirleaf has 102,000 votes, with Tubman at 85,000. Several other candidates trailed far behind.

The report said the results are unofficial. It said they are compiled from tallies posted at various polling centers across the West African country.

Liberia's National Elections Commission has said it will release the first official results Thursday, but that final results are not expected until October 26.

Tuesday's vote marked the second time Liberia has voted since the end of a 14-year civil war in 2003.

A top official of the U.S.-based Carter Center says the commission did an “exemplary” job organizing the elections.

John Stremlau tells VOA that Carter Center election monitors were concerned about some of the rhetoric during the campaign, but saw dedication from poll workers and great patience from voters on Tuesday.

Mrs. Sirleaf is facing a tough fight for a second term, just days after receiving the Nobel Peace Prize. In an interview with VOA, Tubman predicted voters would choose his party, saying it has the “recipe” to unify the country.

If no candidate wins an outright majority, a run-off will be held on November 8.

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

Opponents also criticized Mrs. Sirleaf for her record during the civil war when, for a time, she backed warlord and former president Charles Taylor, who is on trial at the International Criminal Court for alleged war crimes.

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.