Liberia President`s lead narrows in vote count

Liberian election officials say the President`s lead has decreased in the latest vote count.

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

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."


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