MONROVIA, Liberia (AP) — Africa’s first elected female president headed toward easy re-election Tuesday with her sole opponent boycotting Liberia’s runoff, and ignoring entreaties from the United States and the U.N. to participate in what observers say is a free and fair vote.
The boycott won’t stop Sirleaf from winning, but it could undercut her victory and delegitimize her government since she is running unopposed. International election monitors said Tubman’s claims of fraud are unsubstantiated and both the United States and the U.N. Security Council issued sharp criticism, calling on him to reverse his decision and encouraging citizens to vote.
“It’s about our future and our children’s. Even if I don’t want the government, it does not mean I can’t vote,” said Kollie Kennedy, who was waiting her turn at a polling station set up inside a Pentecostal church. “It’s about Liberia.”
Monie Cooper, who was near the front of the line at the same polling station in Monrovia, said elections are important.
“I call on those boycotting the poll to ignore the ignorance and show up to vote,” she said.
Some polling stations had no more than a dozen people waiting their turn. Whereas during the first round of voting last month, voters camped out on the pavement, then waited hours for their chance to cast their ballot, nearly an hour after polls opened Tuesday many of the polling stations in the capital had no one waiting to vote.
Latecomers simply walked up to the doors, showed their ID and were handed a ballot.
The day before the vote on Monday, Tubman’s supporters clashed with police in violence that left at least one dead and four others injured with bullet wounds. Overnight, police stormed two opposition radio stations and shut them down, according to witnesses and employees of the stations.
Tubman said that the violence was further evidence that the vote should have been postponed, but most country experts and analysts say Tubman is boycotting not because of fears of fraud but because he knew he could not win.