Boycott threatens Liberian polls

2011-11-05 22:25

Monrovia - A poll boycott call by the opposition set Liberia on edge three days before run-off presidential elections, as incumbent Ellen Johnson Sirleaf accused her challenger of violating the constitution.

Sirleaf looked headed for a one-woman show in Tuesday's polls, as she called on Liberians to disregard the boycott, and elections officials insisted the vote would go ahead despite Winston Tubman threatening not to recognise the outcome.

Much is at stake in the election, which is seen as a litmus test of the country's still-fragile democracy eight years after the end of a bloody civil conflict which left some 250 000 dead.

"Mr Winston Tubman has called on Liberians to give up their franchise, their right to vote. He has told people to violate the constitution... When you start violating the constitution, where do you stop?" Sirleaf said in an address to the nation made from the presidency headquarters.

'Poised to make history'

She hailed a first round of voting on October 11, which was "validated by 4 800 domestic and foreign observers as free fair and transparent - not marred by a single act of violence" and urged Liberians to disregard the boycott.

"We are poised to make history, to not succumb to fear and intimidation, to not allow any politician to hold our country hostage, to not allow Mr Tubman to claim 'boycott', when what he is doing is forfeiting the right to the finals because he fears defeat," said Sirleaf.

Tubman claims the first round, in which he placed second with 32.7 percent, was flawed by voting irregularities, citing pre-marked ballots and incompetence by the National Election Commission.

Despite securing the resignation of polls chief James Fromayan, Tubman, candidate of the Congress for Democratic Change (CDC), maintains he is still not confident the process will be transparent.

"We officially inform the Liberian people and the world that the CDC cannot participate in the November 8 ballot," Tubman said on Friday, calling on all Liberians to stay away from the ballots.

"Any government coming out of the November 8 process will be without a national mandate to govern and will not be recognised by the CDC."

Upper hand

Sirleaf, 73, said that according to Tubman's reasoning "the election is only free and fair if the CDC wins, but fraudulent when they lose."

The president has the upper hand heading to the run-off, after winning 44% of votes cast in the first round, and has managed to secure the support of key smaller parties for the second round.

Monrovia bustled on Saturday but there was no sign of the party atmosphere which preceded the first round and no campaigning was evident as political bickering cast a pall on the election run-up.

Police checkpoints went up around the city on Friday night after Tubman's announcement.

"I do not think that the boycott of the CDC should be taken lightly because this is a party that has hundreds of thousands of partisans," said political analyst Alvin Wleh, of the University of Liberia.

"So, if they decide not to recognise the government, it could affect our young democracy."

Acting national elections chief Elizabeth Nelson told AFP the election will go on as planned despite the boycott.

"We are under constitutional mandate to hold the run-off on the second Tuesday of November. We are going to do just that," she added.

'Choice between hope and fear'

There are 921 foreign observers in Liberia, compared to 800 in the first round after the Economic Community of West African States boosted their numbers. There will also be 4 598 local observers.

In her address, Sirleaf, who made history in 2005 when she became Africa's first elected female president, harked back to the country's anguished past, which left the nation's economy and infrastructure shattered.

"This election is about a choice between hope and fear; between the unlimited potential our future holds and the ugly aspects of our past ... a past where politicians put their own self-interest ahead of the interests of the nation."

Tubman has called his supporters to his headquarters Saturday, for a "national vigil for peace and transparent elections."


Read News24’s Comments Policy publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
1 comment
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining

Inside News24


Anglican Church urges people to vote

The Anglican Archbishop Thabo Makgoba has called on his congregation to use their right to vote, amid a campaign to spoil ballot papers.


Latest elections multimedia

Why Jack Parow wants you to vote on 7 May
The ad the SABC doesn't want to air
Elections 2014 in one cartoon
This year's election posters
  • Thursday Sir Lowry's Pass - 05:35 AM
    Road name: Old Sir Lowrys Pass Road
    TRAFFIC LIGHTS not working at Bezweni Road
  • Thursday Cape Town - 05:35 AM
    Road name: Buitengracht Street
    TRAFFIC LIGHTS not working at Waterkant Street
More traffic reports...

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Escape winter, head to Mauritius

Escape winter by spending 7 nights in Mauritius' tropical bliss from R13 215 per person sharing. Includes return flights, airport transfers and accommodation. Book now! - shop online today

Get many eggs in one basket!

Gaming bundles: 2 Super Hits games for R99, 3 Disney games for R99 and more + exclusive accessory bundles only available on While stocks last. Shop now!

25% off bestselling books!

The Real Meal Revolution by Tim Noakes, Jeffrey Archer’s Be Careful What You Wish for, Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor E. Frank and many more titles. Shop now!

Up to 25% off electronics

Buy top electronics and save up to 25%. Such as’s 1# selling product the gobii eReader, Patriot X Porter flash drive, Asus Nexus 7” 3G tablet, Samsung Galaxy SIII, Lenovo G580 Notebook and many more. Shop now!

DStv HD PVR Decoder now R949

The DStv HD PVR Decoder has further revolutionised the television experience with lifelike viewing, sharper images, more vibrant colours and precision picture quality. Now R949, save R550. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 30% off appliances & homeware

Save up to 30% on appliances and homeware this Easter! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now.

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

BlackBerry Bold 9790

Bold Design The BlackBerry Bold 9790 smartphone combines the iconic BlackBerry...

From R2979.00

I'm shopping for:


You may be good at organising events but they do take their toll on your energy levels. You may need some time out today just more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.