Disputed Liberian Elections to be Decided in a Run-off (36825)

Oct. 18 (GIN) – President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf and candidate Winston Tubman were the high scorers in last week’s national elections but since neither won over 50%, the two are headed for a contentious run-off on Nov. 8.

In a surprise development, former warlord Prince Johnson who trailed in third place with 12% has thrown his support and his vote-rich district of Nimba to “Ma Ellen”. “She is the less of two evils,” Johnson told the BBC.

A self-appointed “king maker,” Johnson is remembered for being present and drinking a beer while observing the torture and execution of the former Liberian President Samuel Doe in 1990, captured on video. A born-again Christian, Johnson has reconciled with the Doe family and was elected Senator from his home state of Nimba. But he is also on the list of those named by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission to be excluded from politics – as is Ma Ellen.

At last count, President and Nobel Prize winner Johnson-Sirleaf led with 44 percent of the votes while Tubman and his running mate, former soccer star George Weah of the Congress for Democratic Change, garnered only 32.2 percent.

Worryingly, tensions have been building in recent weeks with a rash of arsons and attacks on radio stations. “Liberians have a right to hear reports and commentary on the full range of political opinions in the country,” said Africa Advocacy Coordinator Mohamed Keita. “We condemn attempts to restrict that right through violence and intimidation against journalists.” w/pix of Prince Johnson