With over 90 per cent of votes counted, opposition says results have been skewed in favour of President Sirleaf’s party.
|The electoral commission said results from the runoff will be released by Thursday [AFP]|
The leader of Liberia’s opposition party who boycotted Tuesday’s presidential runoff citing fraud concerns has threatened to seek the annulment of the results.
Winston Tubman of the Congress for Democratic Change told the Reuters news agency on Wednesday he would consider a legal challenge as votes were counted after polls in which incumbent President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf was the only contender.
“I think that is a possibility, and could be the most comprehensive way of addressing this conflict,” he said.
“I will never call for war on the government. We have been through war that killed 300,000 people. We do not want to go down that path again.” Tubman first made allegations of fraud in the first round of voting last month from which Sirleaf, Africa’s first female elected president and winner of this year’s Nobel Prize winner, emerged with an 11-point lead.
“We will not accept the result. We told them we were not voting and they went ahead and placed our photos on the ballot papers,” Tubman said.
“Not only [opposition] CDC people boycotted but many Liberians were listening to us,” Tubman, who was a top aide to former UN secretary-general Kofi Annan, said on Wednesday.
Many Liberians stayed home for Tuesday’s vote, either fearful of a repeat of election-related violence earlier this week or obeying Tubman’s boycott.
One organisation tracking the vote, the Liberia Democratic Institute, said on Tuesday turnout could have been as low as 25-35 per cent, less than half the 71 per cent recorded in the first round when Liberians queued in the rain to cast votes.
Such a low turnout could undermine Sirleaf’s authority during a second term and might even prompt her to open a dialogue with Tubman, analysts said.
The National Election Commission said it would begin releasing results from the second round late on Thursday.
The election is the first locally organised presidential vote in Liberia since 14 years of fighting that killed nearly a quarter of a million people ended in 2003.
Calls to take part ignored
The United Nations staged a poll in 2005 which also ended in a dispute.
The US and the UN had called on Tubman, a Harvard and Cambridge graduate, to take part saying the vote was free and fair, but their entreaties went unheeded.
Tubman claimed the electoral process was rigged in his opponent’s favour and said this week’s violence was further evidence that the vote should have been postponed.
But analysts said Tubman boycotted the vote not because of fears of fraud but because he knew he could not win.
“If you look at the figures, you can see that Tubman is almost certainly going to lose. He is 12, 13 points down in the polls,”‘ said Stephen Ellis, the author of a history of the Liberian civil war and a researcher at the African Studies Center in the Netherlands.
“It’s an obvious calculation. He withholds legitimacy from the government,” Ellis said.
“If it was felt by a large part of population to not be legitimate, in a place like Liberia, with its history, it becomes quite worrying.”