By Shout-Africa.com/Liberia Election Report Project – Vote counting is underway in Liberia after a presidential run-off that was boycotted by the challenger, leaving President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf poised to win a second term. Election observers said the first round of voting was generally free and fair.
Observers have said voter turnout for Tuesday’s poll was very low, sparking concerns that opposition supporters will reject the outcome and that political violence will erupt.
Opposition candidate Winston Tubman of the Congress for Democratic Change dropped out of the poll after accusing the electoral commission of fraud. Mr. Tubman said Wednesday his party will not accept the results, which are expected by the end of the week.
In an interview with VOA Wednesday, Mr. Tubman’s running mate, George Weah, indicated the CDC will hold post-election protests. He said the protests will be peaceful, but added the government must protect everyone in the event of unrest.
Meanwhile, the Liberian government is standing by its decision to close three radio stations believed to be sympathetic to the opposition. The government charged they were broadcasting hate speech and inciting violence.
The government shut down the radio stations on Monday, after clashes between police and opposition supporters in Monrovia killed at least two people.
In an interview with VOA, Liberia’s deputy information minister said the move was necessary to maintain the country’s stability.
Earlier, the U.S. State Department said it is “deeply disappointed” at Mr. Tubman’s decision to boycott the election, saying claims of voter fraud are unsubstantiated.
President Sirleaf, Africa’s first democratically elected female leader, handily won the first round of voting last month, but fell short of the majority needed to avoid a run-off. This is Liberia’s second presidential election since the end of the country’s civil war in 2003. Mrs. Sirleaf won the Nobel peace prize this year for helping Liberia recover from the war.