Liberians will go to the polls again on Nov. 8 for a runoff presidential vote if soccer star George Weah’s lead remains too narrow to win outright in the first round, the elections commission said on Monday.
“If there will be a runoff, it will be the second Tuesday in November, which would be November 8,” Frances Johnson-Morris, head of the National Elections Commission, told reporters.
The latest tally from last Tuesday’s vote — the first since the end of a 14-year civil war — put former FIFA World Player of the Year Weah ahead in the field of 22 presidential candidates with 28.9 percent of the vote.
Former World Bank economist Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, who could become Africa’s first elected female president, was in second place with 19.7 percent. Results had been counted from more than 90 percent of polling stations.
Any candidate must gain 50 percent plus one vote to win outright in the first round, otherwise a second round will be held between the two leaders.
Glued to the radio for news
Emotions have been running high in the battered capital Monrovia as the results trickle in, with supporters from rival camps glued to hand-held radios and celebrating each time their candidate wins another voting precinct.
Some have voiced frustration at the slow pace at which the results are coming in. Johnson-Morris said she had received death threats by text message to her mobile phone saying she would be killed if she did not “release the results well."
International elections observers, diplomats and United Nations officials have praised the enthusiasm and peaceful conduct of those Liberians who took part in an election judged so far to have been free and fair.
The presidential and parliamentary polls were the first since Liberia’s civil war ended in 2003 after former president and warlord Charles Taylor went into exile in Nigeria.