Liberia President`s lead narrows in vote count
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Last Updated: Sunday, October 16, 2011, 21:17
Monrovia: Liberian election officials say the President's lead has decreased in the latest vote count, as opposition parties prepared on Sunday to hold a rally over their claims that election officials are skewing the outcome in the president's favour.

Results released late yesterday decreased Ellen Johnson Sirleaf's vote tally to 44.6 per cent, a loss of less than 1 per cent. Those results represented 80 per cent of polling stations counted.

Election officials have said the counting process has been transparent.

Sirleaf's failure so far to win a majority means the Harvard-educated leader will likely face a second round of voting, which will pit her against the party of a popular soccer star who has appealed to voters by portraying Sirleaf as an Ivy Leaguer who is out of touch with the country's impoverished population.

Sirleaf was Africa's first democratically elected female president. She is viewed abroad as a reformer and was awarded this year's Nobel Peace Prize for her role in stabilising the West African nation after a 14-year civil war.

The latest results keep challenger Winston Tubman in second place, but his share has increased slightly to 31.4 per cent of votes. Tubman also was trained at Harvard, but his campaign is bolstered by the populist appeal of his vice-presidential candidate, soccer sensation George Weah.

Challenger Prince Johnson remains in third place with 11.2 per cent. He has said he is looking forward to playing the role of kingmaker.

Yesterday, Tubman and Johnson were part of a group of opposition parties who said they were pulling out of the process. They threatened to refuse the results over allegations that election officials are skewing the outcome in Sirleaf's favour.

The group said they could offer photographs and witnesses to back their claims. They also called for a Sunday rally but did not specify a time or place.

Late yesterday, National Elections Commission chairman James Fromoyan said the counting would continue despite the parties' decision to recall their representatives from counting centres.

"If any party chooses to leave without any apparent reason we will go ahead to declare the results as we are doing," he said. "The fact that the ballots are being counted in the open means we have nothing to hide."


First Published: Sunday, October 16, 2011, 21:17

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