Bloomberg News

Liberia’s Election May Head to Runoff as Johnson-Sirleaf Leads

October 13, 2011

Oct. 14 (Bloomberg) -- Liberia’s presidential election may go to a second round as partial results released by the National Elections Commission show incumbent Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf leading with 44.5 percent of valid votes counted.

Winston Tubman was in second place with 26.5 percent, according to a tally announced by commission Chairman James Fromoyan yesterday in Monrovia. The results are 16.5 percent of the total ballots cast, he said. If no candidate wins more than 50 percent of the vote, a runoff will be held, with a possible date set for Nov. 8, according to the commission’s website.

Johnson-Sirleaf, 72, had 86,874 votes while Tubman, 70, had 51,771, Fromoyan said. The commission counted 195,178 valid ballots, while more than 1.7 million people were eligible to vote in the Oct. 11 presidential and legislative poll.

Johnson-Sirleaf, who was named a joint Nobel prize winner on Oct. 7 for her work in women’s rights, faced 15 candidates in the election, where voters also chose junior senators and lawmakers. She won her first term in 2005 and worked to lure investment and rebuild a country devastated by a 14-year civil war that left an estimated 250,000 people dead.

ArcelorMittal, the world’s biggest steelmaker, started iron-ore shipments on Sept. 27. OAO Severstal, Russia’s largest steelmaker, is developing the Putu iron ore mine in a $2.5 billion investment and Chevron Corp., the second-largest U.S. oil company, will start exploration drilling off the Liberian coast in the fourth quarter of this year.

Opportunity

A second round “is a great opportunity for Liberians to focus on which policy options are being proposed by the two parties,” said Phil Vernon, director of International Alert, a London-based non-governmental organization. “They have a long way to go and it’s important that the candidates focus on that,” he said by phone from Monrovia yesterday.

The announcement of results “may prompt small-scale disturbances, especially if presidential candidates allege electoral fraud,” according to London-based Control Risks. “Sustained and widespread unrest remain unlikely,” the group said in a statement on its website yesterday.

The Liberia Media Center, a Monrovia-based reporters’ association, said Johnson-Sirleaf received 191,653 of 428,783 votes counted, according to unofficial, preliminary returns published on its website. Tubman had 153,377 ballots and Prince Yormie Johnson, a former warlord and current senator, was in third place with 51,973.

Some “minor procedural irregularities,” including improper folding of ballot papers, which were seen by observers from the Atlanta-based Carter Center were not enough to “affect the overall integrity of the vote,” the group said in an e- mailed statement yesterday.

--Editors: Emily Bowers, Antony Sguazzin.

To contact the reporter on this story: Terrence Sesay in Monrovia via Accra at ebowers1@bloomberg.net; Pauline Bax in Abidjan via Accra at ebowers1@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Antony Sguazzin at asguazzin@bloomberg.net.


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