Liberia Prepares for Presidential Run-Off Amid Boycott Confusion

Posted November 3rd, 2011 at 5:15 pm (UTC-5)
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Liberia is getting ready for next week's presidential run-off election amid uncertainty whether the opposition Congress for Democratic Change party will make good on its threat and boycott the vote.

Final results from the October 11 polls showed that incumbent President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf won about 44 percent of the vote compared to 33 percent garnered by her main rival, CDC candidate Winston Tubman. However, none of the presidential candidates won an outright majority and a second round vote was scheduled for November 8.

Tubman accused the electoral commission of rigging the first round of voting and said the commission's chairman, James Fromayan, is a Sirleaf supporter. Tubman threatened to boycott the run-off if Fromayan did not step down. The head of the commission resigned Sunday and a day later, Tubman told his supporters the race was on.

But CDC's secretary-general Acarous Gray told VOA Thursday that Tubman is still in consultations with supporters and has not yet decided whether to take part in the run-off. Gray said the party has pulled out of presidential and vice-presidential debates scheduled for Thursday evening at Monrovia's city hall.

On the campaign trail, President Sirleaf said Tubman is trying to confuse voters by pretending to boycott the polls while actively campaigning behind the scenes.

She enters the run-off with the endorsement of both the third- and fourth-place finishers from the October 11 voting.

Election observers said the first round of voting was generally free and fair. This is Liberia's second presidential poll since the end of a civil war in 2003. Mrs. Sirleaf won the first election in 2005, defeating George Weah, who is now Tubman's vice-presidential candidate.