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.'
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“He is a difficult man and he is erratic and unpredictable,” said Dan Saryee, executive director of the Liberia Democratic Institute. “Even though he pronounced that he supported CDC, because of his erratic nature I wouldn’t rely on that.”Skip to next paragraph
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However, Saryee says that Johnson is holding enough of the vote at the moment to pose a threat to the Unity Party’s chances at reelection. “If he [Johnson] still takes the same line and supports the CDC, it means that the Unity Party will have to do a lot of work. He does have a lot of the vote given the provisional results we have.”
While there has been a great deal of commentary on whether there will be a runoff, fewer than 200,000 of the 1.7 million votes have been tallied and only 2.5 percent of votes counted in the key county of Montserrado, in which the capital and around 35 percent of the voting population are located. Thus, the implications of the results still remain unclear. The NEC will be releasing additional preliminary results today and final results on Oct. 26 that will determine whether there will be a run off, with one party needing to take 51 percent of the vote in order to claim victory.
Uncertainty on the street
For Liberian citizens and supporters of both parties, the results tell little about who their new president will be.
Alieu Swaray, a cellphone scratch-card vendor who voted for the Unity Party, said that he thinks a runoff is likely, but that Sirleaf will be victorious. Sitting behind a wooden stand with a sign pasted on it reading "No violence before, during and after the elections," Mr. Swaray said he was certain that the UP would be able to muster up the support of other marginal parties.
“When we go for the second round, most of the other parties will join us,” Swaray said, confidently adding that the UP would gain Johnson’s support also.
Milikie Wilmot, a security guard and CDC supporter, said he felt the preliminary results pointed to election rigging.
“I’m not feeling good about the results,” said Mr. Wilmot. “I feel like cheating is going on and Sirleaf is paying bribes to win the election.”
Wilmot’s comment comes the day after the CDC’s Tubman complained to the electoral commission, alleging that electoral staff had tampered with a small number of ballot boxes.
Another CDC supporter, public administration student Sedike Swairer, said the results were unclear at this stage. But he too was certain that his party would win.
“The people of Liberia will choose the CDC because they want jobs and a better life for themselves.”