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Sirleaf leads Liberian presidential vote, but a second round looms

Nobel Peace Prizewinner Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has 44.5 percent of the Liberian presidential vote so far: not enough to avoid a second round, where former warlord Prince Johnson may be 'kingmaker.'

By Clair MacDougallCorrespondent / October 14, 2011

Riot policemen stand guard in front of the National Elections Commission building during presidential elections in Monrovia, on Thursday. Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has won 44.5 percent of votes counted so far in the West African country's election, not enough to avoid a second round.

Luc Gnago/Reuters

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Monrovia, Liberia

President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf posted a major lead ahead of the opposition in preliminary election results released yesterday, but analysts say that it will not be enough for the Nobel Peace Prizewinning incumbent to deliver on her promise of a first-round victory.

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Armored riot police guarded the National Electoral Commission (NEC) headquarters in Monrovia yesterday afternoon as NEC chairman James Fromayan announced the preliminary results. But the streets remained calm even as results failed to point to a clear victory by either the ruling Unity Party or the major opposition party the Congress for Democratic Change (CDC), led by the Harvard-educated former Justice Minister Winston Tubman and soccer legend George Weah, who ran against Ms. Sirleaf in the 2005 elections.

Sirleaf and her running mate, the current vice president Joseph Nyema Boakai, took 44.5 percent of the vote and an 18 percent lead over Mr. Tubman and Mr. Weah. Former warlord and current Sen. Prince Johnson – best known around the globe for the key role he played Liberia’s first civil war, including capturing and killing former President Samuel Doe, and his battles with Charles Taylor’s National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL) – took 13.5 percent of the vote.

A warlord as 'kingmaker'?

Mr. Johnson has widely been quoted by media outlets saying he will be “the kingmaker” and has said he will support the CDC if either party was unable to take 51 percent of the vote and the elections were driven to a second round. Some analysts say it remains unclear as to whom Johnson will back. However there is a chance Johnson, who remains popular in his home county of Nimba, where he was elected as a senator in 2005, could determine who takes the presidency.

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