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Liberia - Parlamentsvalg 2005, Optælling påbegyndt!

LIBERIA: Voters thirsty for news as counting begins after landmark polls

IRINnews.org, 12. oktober 2005

Dagen efter det historiske præsidentvalg blev der lyttet intenst til radioen. Men selvom det fortsat tager nogle dage før resultatet foreligger, så er de første tendenser tydelige og modsvarer forventningerne. Favoritterne Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf og George Weah ligger side om side klart foran resten af kandidaterne til posten som Liberias nye præsident.

Two young Liberian voters check to see who came first at their polling station - ©  IRIN
MONROVIA, 12 Oct 2005 (IRIN) - Liberians with a radio were in demand on Wednesday as a nation hungered for any scrap of news about who might be their next president, but elections officials warned voters were in for a long wait.

Officials said results were in from only one percent of the electorate, a day after thousands of people braved huge lines to cast their ballot for a leader they hope will lead them away from their war-torn past and out of abject poverty.

These partial results, compiled from 39 polling stations, put presidential favourites Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf and George Weah neck and neck.

The National Elections Commission said Sirleaf, a Harvard-educated economist who would be Africa's first elected female leader if she won, had 24.6 percent of the votes so far, with millionaire soccer star Weah just behind on 21.2 percent.

Lawyer Charles Brumskine -- who led the Senate under former president Charles Taylor before falling out with him -- and Winston Tubman – the nephew of the country's longest serving president -- were in joint third, with 10.2 percent.

However, Liberia's electoral chief, Frances Johnson-Morris, stressed that this was an incomplete snapshot.

"Remember... there are 3,070 polling places that need to be compiled, counted and tallied," she told a packed press conference on Wednesday. "The entire process is expected to take three to seven days."

On the streets of the capital, Monrovia, where only two years ago residents hardly dared venture out for fear of random mortars and stray bullets, people stood on street corners with radios glued to their ears.

Those without a radio in this impoverished nation, packed into mechanics' garages, tailors workshops and grocery stores, straining to hear broadcasts detailing results from individual polling stations.

Sylvester Yangbae, who earns a living typing documents on a street corner for the illiterate masses, said he had brought his wireless to work so as not to miss anything and was compiling his own tally sheet.

Waiting doesn't dampen enthusiasm

"I'm feeling great because we went through a lot of suffering during the past years. So to be able to elect our president freely and fairly, it's incredible and I want every scrap of information," he told IRIN, noting down another result.

Liberians scan the newspapers for post-election analysis - ©  IRIN
International observers have praised the enthusiasm for democracy in a nation whose 1989-2003 civil war saw an estimated quarter of a million people killed and hundreds of thousands more forced to flee their homes.

Some polling stations stayed open beyond the official closing time on Tuesday to ensure that every man and woman standing in line could have their say.

Liberians were voting for 30 senators and 64 representatives for the lower house of parliament, as well as a new president.

Counting and gathering up all the ballot papers across the heavily-forested West African nation is a laborious task.

Polling staff resorted to generators and battery-powered lanterns as they worked through the night, totting up the votes in a country that has been without mains electricity for more than a decade.

And collecting the tally sheets and ballot boxes when they have finished is no easy task. The war left many key roads and bridges in ruins and the current rainy season has turned mud tracks into mini rivers.

So on Wednesday, four UN helicopters and hundreds of trucks and jeeps were doing shuttle runs, ferrying the tally sheets and ballot boxes back to the capital.

Presidential candidates need to get 50 percent plus one vote to win. If none of the 22 presidential hopefuls manages this, there will be a run-off between the top two, expected to be on 8 November.

Liberia's first polls since the end of civil war were violence-free and there has been a chorus of calls for that calm to be maintained during the counting and the announcement of the results.

"It's a slow and tedious process but the final results will be worth waiting for," former US president Jimmy Carter, one of more than 400 international observers, said on Tuesday.

© IRIN - This article appeared originally on IRIN News.org and is published by engelund.dk according a general agreement. To view the original article, please click here.
IRIN (Integrated Regional Information Networks) is a project of UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
[This article does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations or its agencies.]


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Opdateret d. 16.10.2005