Liberia’s opposition is likely to participate in the second run-off vote in the country’s presidential election, even though they allege irregularities in the voting process.
With 96 per cent of the votes counted by Sunday, the results indicated that incumbent President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s Unity party had got 44 per cent.
Despite this lead, Sirleaf remains short of the outright majority required for a first-round win, and the National Election Commission (NEC) chairman said the election was likely to be decided in a second-round ballot.
“From the statistics we have, we do not think the remaining number will make any difference or give any one party the absolute majority required by law to win on the first ballot,” NEC’s James Fromayah said on Sunday.
A run-off will take place in early November if no candidate secures more than 50 per cent.
Al Jazeera’s Yvonne Ndege, reporting from the capital, Monrovia, said Liberia’s election – the first held by the nation since the end of the civil war in 2003 – was deemed largely successful by international observers.
More than 70 per cent of registered voters participated, and no incidents of violence were reported.
However, rivals of Sirleaf, who was named a joint winner of this year’s Nobel Peace Prize just before the vote, claim that the results have been skewed in her favour.
A group of nine opposition parties asked the country’s election commission to recount the votes of the presidential poll, alleging fraud in the results announced so far.
The nine, which includes Sirleaf’s two main challengers, said in a statement during a rally on Sunday that they wanted the NEC to release the total number of voters per county and recount all the votes.
“We the nine, we will no longer accept the election results that are being announced to the Liberian people and the international community by the NEC,” the statement said.
The opposition earlier said they were planning to protest against the results. Some of the opposition also showed Al Jazeera photographs of open ballot boxes away from the polling stations, claiming it was evidence of electoral fraud.
The NEC has so far rejected allegations of fraud and officials said the counting process was transparent.
But the election body also revealed that it was investigating 12 case of alleged malpractices.
According to the latest results, the ruling Unity party has maintained its leading pre-poll position, despite a slight loss of less than one per cent.
The results also kept the main challenger, Winston Tubman, in second place, with 32.2 per cent. He was followed by Prince Johnson with 11.8 per cent and Charles Brumskine with 5.5 per cent.