Sirleaf may offer rivals govt posts

2011-11-10 13:01
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Liberia elections

Votes are being counted in the run-off of a Liberian presidential election that was meant to shore up peace in the war-scarred state but which instead appears to have deepened divisions.

Monrovia - Liberia's Ellen Johnson Sirleaf may, if re-elected, offer government posts to rivals in a spirit of reconciliation after a deadly crackdown on an opposition protest, a spokesperson said on Thursday.

Newly-named Nobel laureate Johnson Sirleaf is tipped to win a second term in the war-scarred West African country after rival Winston Tubman dropped out of a November 08 run-off vote, alleging fraud in an October first round won by the incumbent.

"President Sirleaf is going to reach out to all Liberians and those of the CDC [opposition party]. She will foster unity and reconciliation," Norris Tweah, Deputy Minister for Administration, Information Ministry, told Reuters.

"If it means she will form a national government of inclusion, she will do so. There are good people in the CDC camp," he said. Johnson Sirleaf, he said, would not rule out including Tubman himself in her next government.

Results from Tuesday's run-off are due to start coming in on Thursday. Although Tubman dropped out and urged Liberians to boycott the vote, his name appeared on ballot slips. A low turnout could raise questions over the credibility of the vote.

Liberian police used tear gas, truncheons and live rounds to disperse hundreds of CDC supporters who had spilled onto a major roadway near their headquarters on Monday, leaving two dead. The UN peacekeepers were present in support of the police.


Former UN diplomat Tubman, who was in the CDC headquarters at the time of the clash, said he felt personally targeted, an assertion the government has denied.

But Tubman told Reuters on Wednesday the incident could make power-sharing "unlikely or impossible" and he was considering a legal challenge to the results of the run-off.

Tubman took about 33% of the first-round ballots, to Johnson Sirleaf's 44%.

The election is the first locally organised presidential vote in Liberia since 14 years of fighting that ended in 2003. The United Nations staged a previous vote in 2005 which also ended in a dispute.

Liberia wants to put the conflict behind it and use its iron and other resource wealth to rebuild. Critics of Johnson Sirleaf, Africa's first freely elected female head of state, say progress in her first term was too slow.

Liberia received a blow to its reconstruction hopes on Wednesday as tests from its offshore Montserrado well failed to confirm the presence of oil in commercial quantities.

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