By Shout-Africa.com /Liberia Coordinator – Africa’s first democratically elected female leader says she set in facing a runoff election next month. She says she’s confident Liberians will vote for her in big numbers, but the first-round voting last Tuesday shows she is facing stiff competition after six years in power.
News monitored in the Liberian capital has it that President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf said late Sunday she is ready for a Nov. 8 runoff against Winston Tubman. With 96 percent of polling stations counted, she led with around 44 percent. Election officials said the remaining results won’t change much.
The 72-year-old Johnson Sirleaf is gracious during an interview, but looks tired after the election campaign. That air of weariness vanishes as she defends her record and her promise to rebuild Liberia. She was elected two years after the end of the civil war in 2003. Sirleaf, won the Nobel Peace Prize this year with two other women, she was disappointed she didn’t win outright in the Oct. 11 vote.
The Harvard-trained Sirleaf is viewed abroad as a reformer but Tubman’s camp portrays her as out of touch with the impoverished population.
“First of all, I think you have to look at Liberia’s progress in the context of where we were when we started,” she said. “This was a broken country — collapsed economy. People were not making anything, $15 a month for civil servants. Today the lowest pay is $100 a month. There was no investment, there was capital flight.”
It estimated that the government of Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf have mobilized $16 billion in direct foreign investment,” she added. “Now it takes time for that investment to translate into jobs, into infrastructure improvement. We have now laid the foundation. All of the things that we now need will come in the next few years, because of what we’ve done in these past six years.”
“We have done everything to ensure that our fight against corruption is not just going to be one sentimental trial here or there,” she said. “But we are going to have prevention, which is a much better way for a permanent cure. I grant you that prosecutions are to come. And they will come. We’re coming back to them right after elections.”
Johnson Sirleaf also issues a word of warning to Liberia’s political opposition, which over the weekend alleged vote count fraud in the president’s favor, after the first round of voting. “I’ve been in close fights all my life and I’ve won every one of them and this one will be the same,” Johnson Sirleaf said. “We have a record before the Liberian people. That’s how come we’re so far ahead in the polls ,in this second round, we’re going to work hard, we’re going to make sure that we take our case to the people. And I’m just convinced that the people will stand by us.”
In a related development On Monday, police said assailants torched a radio station owned by an opposition supporter in the capital, though it was not clear what the assailants’ motives were or if there was any connection to the poll.
Police spokesman George Bardue said the police arrested one suspect and are investigating. Love FM chief Paul Mulbah said the assailants threw a petrol bomb into the station. He said the fire did not reach the studio but the station is back on air. He said the radio station was warned three days earlier and said they informed officials Bardue said police have also arrested two suspects over a Saturday blaze at the local headquarters of the ruling Unity Party just days after the poll.
Liberia’s president says she’s optimistic over a runoff after poll results show she failed to gain the majority needed to win outright.