Liberian opposition mulls next move ahead of vote


Two runner-up candidates in Liberia’s presidential election were locked in backroom negotiations with other parties as they rushed to decide who to endorse in a November 8 runoff vote, their parties said.

Liberia’s presidential election will be decided by a second-round vote after incumbent President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf failed to win a 50 percent outright majority in the first round.

Observers have praised the peaceful manner in which Liberia’s second post-war ballot was carried out. The vote is a test of progress towards stability and the country’s readiness for investment in untapped mineral and agricultural resources, Reuters reports.

Results announced on Sunday showed the newly named Nobel Peace laureate scored 44 percent of the vote, ahead of Winston Tubman of the CDC party, who received 32.2 percent, with 96 percent of votes counted.
“As of now, we have not come out with any definite decision as to which party we will support,” said Eric Gbernmie, press secretary of ex-rebel Prince Johnson’s NUDP party, who garnered 11.8 percent of the votes in the first round.
“We are meeting with key actors in our party and holding consultations across the country on which party to support. … We have been receiving calls from many political parties, both the CDC and UP (Johnson-Sirleaf’s Unity Party). But no decision has been made yet.”

Johnson had said his party would want to play a strategic role in any government that will emerge with their backing.
“You can’t be the kingmaker and then not have a part to play. You have to be a part of the government in a strategic area that will help take the system where it should go,” Johnson told Reuters in an interview on October 14

Jacob Smith, Secretary-General of Charles Brumskine’s Liberty Party, who came in fourth with 5.5 percent of the vote, said they had been inundated with calls from the ruling party and the CDC opposition, requesting meetings.
“They all want our support. However, this is a decision, which will not be made by one person. After it is reached, it will be announced through our presidential candidate,” Smith told Reuters by telephone in Monrovia.

Although the election was largely peaceful, sporadic incidents of violence are a reminder that the tense atmosphere around the vote could ignite a crisis.

A private radio station owned by an opposition politician was fire-boomed early on Monday by unknown attackers, the station’s manager told Reuters.

A Liberian police spokesman said two people had been arrested in connection with a suspected arson attack on the ruling party’s headquarters in Monrovia, while one person has been arrested in connection with the radio station assault.