Riot in Liberia ahead of today's poll

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Liberia - A fresh riot broke out in Monrovia, Liberia's capital city, on Monday, with casualties feared and properties being destroyed ahead of today's presidential run-off election.

Anti-riot police and UN peace keepers fired tear gas at supporters of the main opposition party in Liberia, the Congress for Democratic Change (CDC), as their peaceful rally turned violent.

Police said some of the protesters were armed.

The group is calling for the stoppage of the presidential run-off.

The date for the election was fixed for today after the first round of ballot on 11 October in which 16 parties participated, did not produce a clear winner, leaving only the Unity Party of President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, and CDC.

Opposition party's leader Winston Tubman announced his party would not participate in the run-off, claiming that the electoral commission was already biased.

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) condemned opposition's planned pullout, and advised the party and all Liberians to endeavor to vote on Tuesday.

The ECOWAS Commission said this would ensure a credible outcome and assist in the consolidation of democracy in the country.

This call was contained in a statement issued by the commission in Abuja on Monday.

The statement specifically appealed to Winston Tubman and all Liberian stakeholders to actively participate in the presidential run-off.

"They are equally urged to refrain from all unconstitutional practices that may mar the concluding phase of the electoral process," the statement added.

It cautioned political leaders, individuals or groups against instigating their fellow citizens to violence as they would be held accountable for their actions.

Tubman had threatened to withdraw from the run-off election and called on CDC followers and Liberians in general to stay away from the polls.

He cited unaddressed CDC complaints about voting irregularities in the course of the 11 October elections.