2011-11-08 12:50:57

Polls open in Liberian presidential run-off election

Liberian president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf is set to win re-election in today’s run-off election, after her rival Winston Tubman withdrew in protest against alleged fraud in the first round. International election monitors said Tubman's claims of fraud are unsubstantiated and both the United States and the United Nations Security Council issued sharp criticism, calling on him to reverse his decision and encouraging citizens to vote.

In a radio broadcast on the eve of the vote, the UN’s Special Representative of the Secretary General Ellen Margrethe Løj said it was every Liberian’s right to vote. “To vote is an individual, democratic right. It’s your personal right, and your personal choice. All Liberians who wish to exercise their right to vote should be able to do so in peace and without intimidation. Peaceful, credible, and transparent elections are important to insure that the peace in Liberia is maintained.”

The day before the vote, Tubman's supporters clashed with police in street fighting that left at least one dead and four others injured with bullet wounds. Løj said it was up to the Liberian people to reject violence: “But it’s you, the Liberian voters, who have to decide whether you will contribute to consolidating democracy and peace in Liberia. But first and foremost, regardless of your political views, I appeal to all Liberians, all Liberians, to say no to violence on election day. No to violence on election day. Liberia is all you have. Help build it democratically, do not destroy it violently.”

The election is only the second since the end of Liberia's horrific civil war eight years ago—and it's the first being organized by the country's government, rather than by the United Nations.

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