Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Liberia’s first and only female president and recent Nobel Peace Prize winner, secured re-election on Thursday, capturing 90.2 percent of the vote.
The results concluded a tumultuous presidential race between Sirleaf and 15 other opponents. Sirleaf failed to win 50 percent of the vote during the general election last month, forcing a runoff between former United Nations diplomat and Congress for Democratic Change party leader Winston Tubman.
The National Election Commission announced late Thursday that Sirleaf had received 513,320 votes out and Tubman received only 52,071 ballots, or 9.2 percent. of 565,391 tallied.
Tubman had accused voting officials of skewing the electoral process in Sirleaf’s favor and claims his party has evidence of ballot-stuffing and of improperly filled-in tally sheets. Citing these claims, Tubman dropped out of the runoff race and last week called for voters to boycott Tuesday’s presidential runoff.
“Our decision before the runoff is that we would not accept the results," Tubman told the Associated Press on Thursday. “We're getting pressure from everywhere, including the White House, to partake in something we know is stacked against us."
Voter turnout on Tuesday was only about 33 percent of registered voters, a steep drop-off from the 71 percent of voters who showed up during the first round of voting. Those who didn’t heed Tubman’s call may have stayed away out of fear of violent protests. On Monday, at least two people were killed after Tubman’s supporters clashed with security forces outside of CDC headquarters in the nation’s capital.
Most analysts and country experts believed Sirleaf would have bested Tubman even if he hadn’t dropped out. Atlanta-based Carter Center, headed by former President Jimmy Carter, said Tubman’s accusations have cast a dark shadow over an election that was supposed to signify Liberia’s progress since the end of a 14-year civil war in 2003.
"The opposition's decision to boycott the runoff was based on their assertion that the overall election was significantly flawed. These claims remain unsubstantiated," the group said in a statement, according to the AP. "[The] boycott essentially denied the Liberian people a genuine choice within a competitive electoral process."
(Photo: Finbarr O'Reilly/Reuters)