- Associated Press - Thursday, November 10, 2011

MONROVIA, LIBERIA Africa’s first and only female president handily won re-election Thursday with 90.2 percent of the vote. However, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf’s victory has been rendered hollow and her government may struggle to prove its legitimacy because the opposition boycotted the election.

Hours before the results were announced in an election that was supposed to solidify Liberia’s shaky peace, opposition leader Winston Tubman said he would not accept the outcome of this week’s presidential runoff.

With nearly nine-tenths of precincts reporting, National Election Commission Chairwoman Elizabeth Nelson announced late Thursday that Mrs. Sirleaf had received 513,320 votes out of 565,391 tallied. Only 52,071 ballots, or 9.2 percent, had been cast for Mr. Tubman, a former U.N. diplomat.

Last week, Mr. Tubman called on his supporters to boycott Tuesday’s presidential runoff, and many polling places closed early because of the dismal turnout. An hour after polls opened, many had no lines outside. By afternoon, poll workers were seen dozing off, some laying their heads on tables next to near-empty ballot boxes.

Turnout hovered around 33 percent of registered voters, not even half of the 71 percent who turned out for the election’s first round.

“Our decision before the runoff is that we would not accept the results,” Mr. Tubman said in Monrovia, Liberia’s sea-front capital of pockmarked buildings that still bear the scars of the horrific 14-year civil war that only ended in 2003.

“We’re getting pressure from everywhere including the White House to partake in something we know is stacked against us,” he said in an interview.

“The international community cannot see our case, and we wanted to bring this to their attention. They should know we’re not just making trouble. I’m not a troublemaker. They should not ignore us. This was a way that our voice was heard.”

Most analysts and country political experts believe that Mr. Tubman would have lost Tuesday’s election if he had participated. His Congress for Democratic Change party got about 33 percent of the vote in the first round last month, compared with about 44 percent for Mrs. Sirleaf. She later won the endorsement of the third-place finisher, who had just over 11 percent.

“If you look at the figures, you can see that Tubman [was] almost certainly going to lose. He is 12, 13 points down in the polls,” said Stephen Ellis, the author of a history of the Liberian civil war and researcher at the African Studies Center Leiden in the Netherlands.



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