Ellen Johnson Sirleaf's main rival in Liberia's presidential election has slammed the Nobel committee for awarding her the Nobel Peace Prize just days before the country heads to the polls.
Winston Tubman, a presidential candidate in Tuesday's election, called the awarding of the prize to Sirleaf, who is seeking a second term as Liberia's president, "provocative," Agence France-Presse reports.
Tubman, a Harvard-educated lawyer, told AFP that the award for Sirleaf is "unacceptable."
Sirleaf jointly received the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday along with Liberian activist Leymah Gbowee and Tawakkul Karman of Yemen, for their work on women's rights.
The Toronto Globe and Mail reports that "the timing of the prize is already sparking surprise and anger from some Liberians."
The Norwegian Nobel Committee, in announcing the award today, faced questions from journalists who asked about the timing of the award to Ms. Johnson Sirleaf, so close to the election date. The committee members defended their decision, insisting that they always completely ignore all domestic political considerations when they decide the winners, and explaining that they could not postpone the announcement even by a few days.
The prize, however, could be a key factor in helping Ms. Johnson Sirleaf to victory in next week’s election.
Sirleaf, 72, is Africa's first female elected president. She was elected to office in 2005 following the end of Liberia's 14-year civil war.
The Nobel committee lauded Sirleaf for her contribution "to securing peace in Liberia, to promoting economic and social development, and to strengthening the position of women."
But while Sirleaf has been a darling of the international community, at home in Liberia her government has been accused of corruption and failing to alleviate poverty.
In 2005, she promised to stand for only one term as president.