Liberia challenger says won’t take part in run-off


Winston Tubman

Winston Tubman said on Friday that he would not take part in Liberia‘s planned November 8 presidential run-off vote against President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, but the election commission said a vote would take place anyway.

Tubman, a Harvard- and Cambridge-educated lawyer who worked at the United Nations, called on supporters to take part in a peaceful protest on Saturday and to boycott the vote next week.
He also said he would not recognize any government formed as a result of the polls. But the election commission chief said nothing would stop the poll from taking place as planned.

The culmination of Liberia’s second post-war poll — which will test progress in stabilizing a nation that is rich in minerals but was crippled by years of war — has been marred by allegations of bias at the election commission.

The previous head of the commission resigned last week after Tubman’s party complained it was biased, but Tubman said problems remained at the body.

“We refuse to participate in the November 8th run-off election. We will never reward fraud and abuse of power and will never grant legitimacy to a corrupt political process,” Tubman told reporters in Monrovia.

Tubman called on his CDC party supporters to don white clothes and hold a “vigil for peace and transparent elections” on Saturday before boycotting the poll next week.

“Any government coming out of the November 8 process will be one without a national mandate to govern and will not be recognized by the CDC,” he added.

The regional body ECOWAS has warned that a boycott risked destabilizing Liberia and called on Tubman not to pull out of the process. Tubman flew to Nigeria for talks with ECOWAS this week but they appear to have failed.

The election commission said Tubman’s boycott would have no impact on the holding of the vote.

“We are calling on all peace-loving Liberians to turn out in their numbers to come out and vote on Tuesday,” election commission chief Elizabeth B. Nelson told Reuters by phone.

“Nothing will stop the elections from going ahead as planned,” she added.

Liberia’s war ended in 2003 and the last election was held in 2005. Confidence in the country has steadily grown and foreign mining and oil firms are preparing to pour in billions of dollars to develop resources in the West African state.

(Reporting by Alphonso Toweh; Writing by David Lewis; Editing by Tim Pearce)
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