Johnson Demands Part of Liberia Government in Exchange for Support of President Sirleaf

Posted October 20th, 2011 at 3:15 am (UTC-5)
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Liberia's former rebel leader Prince Johnson is demanding his party be given 30 percent of the country's future government in exchange for his endorsement of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf in the upcoming run-off election.

Johnson, who finished third in the October 11 presidential election, said Wednesday that he would back President Sirleaf, whose 44 percent of the vote fell short of the majority needed to win the election outright.

Mrs. Sirleaf's top rival, former Justice Minister Winston Tubman, finished second in the polls with just over 32 percent.

Johnson originally accused President Sirleaf of rigging the vote, but later said he decided to endorse her candidacy because Mr. Tubman's supporters wanted to try him for war crimes allegedly committed during the country's civil war that ended in 2003.

Some observers say that Johnson's endorsement of President Sirleaf likely guarantees her victory in the second-round election that is scheduled for November 8.

Liberia's Truth and Reconciliation Commission last year called for charges against Johnson, saying he should be barred from office for 30 years for his part in the country's 14-year civil war.

President Sirleaf, who earlier this month shared the Nobel Peace Prize, has also come under fire for ignoring the commission's recommendation that she should be banned from public office for her support of warlord and former President Charles Taylor.

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