Opposition to take part in Liberia presidential runoff


Liberia’s main opposition candidate Winston Tubman, withdrew a demand for a recount of a presidential poll and said he will take part in a runoff.

Tubman made his announcement after election authorities declared on Sunday that no candidate had obtained an absolute majority.

A group of nine Liberian opposition parties had earlier asked the West African nation’s election commission to recount the votes of the first-round presidential poll, alleging fraud in the results announced so far, Reuters reports.

The nine, who include President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf’s two main challengers, said in a statement during a rally that they wanted the National Election Commission (NEC) to release the total number of voters per county and recount all the votes.

The row had threatened to derail Liberia’s second post-war ballot, which is a test of progress towards stability and its readiness for investment in untapped mineral and agricultural resources.

Latest results announced on Sunday showed that newly named Nobel Peace laureate Johnson-Sirleaf was leading with 44 percent of the votes, ahead of Tubman of the CDC party, on 32.2 percent with 1,162,729 valid votes and 96 percent of votes counted.

Despite her lead, Johnson-Sirleaf remains short of the outright majority required for a first-round win and the NEC’s chairman said the election was likely to be decided in a second-round ballot.
“From the statistics we have, we do not think the remaining number will make any difference or give any one party the absolute majority required by law to win on the first ballot,” NEC’s James Fromayah told journalists on Sunday.
“Yes, a runoff is imminent,” Fromayah said.

A run-off will take place in early November if no candidate secures more than 50 percent.

Tubman said pressure from the nine political parties had made the NEC reconsider declaring John-Sirleaf the outright winner in the first-round.
“We told them the process was flawed, but now that they are doing the right thing, we will take part in the second-round,” Tubman told Reuters late on Sunday after the commission announced the latest results.
“We are confident of victory in the second-round,” he said.

The NEC, which had rejected the opposition’s allegations of fraud, said turnout stood so far at 71.4 percent of total registered voters.

The commission had said the vote would not be tarnished, even if the opposition parties withdrew their officials from the remainder of the counting process, as they had threatened.
“We will proceed with the electoral process in a very even-handed manner as we have been doing so the results and out work can speak for themselves,” Fromayah said.

International election observers such as the Carter Centre, have said they have not seen any evidence of fraud in the election so far.

Some 1.8 million Liberians registered to vote that was Liberia’s first locally organised poll since an on-and-off 1989-2003 conflict.