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Liberia: Election riots turn deadly

At least one person is dead after opposition protests in the capital city, Monrovia.
Liberia riot 2011 11 7Enlarge
Liberian opposition Congress for Democratic Change (CDC) party supporters rally in Monrovia on Nov. 7, 2011. At least one person was killed during the rally that turned violent on the eve of the presidential election run-off. (Issouf Sanogo/AFP/Getty Images)

Up to four people have been killed by Liberian riot police in protests ahead of Tuesday’s presidential run-off between incumbent Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf and former justice minister Winston Tubman, according to AFP.

Shots were exchanged between opposition activists and police in the capital city, Monrovia, on Monday after Tubman called for a boycott of the vote.

"Three or four were killed and many injured. They [police] came and started shooting at unarmed people who just wanted peace," said Tubman's running mate, former football star George Weah, AFP reported.

The Congress for Democratic Change (CDC) candidate has claimed he has evidence of fraud and voting irregularities in last month’s first round of elections, the Mail & Guardian reported. He vowed to reject the results of the election and called on his supporters Monday to boycott the vote.

“There is nothing in our laws that compel Liberians to vote. They have the freedom to vote or not to vote. And to call upon them to vote or not to vote is no violation at all,” Tubman said, according to Voice of America.

More: Liberia lines up for round two

CDC supporters answered the call by rioting outside the party’s headquarters. Liberian police, along with UN peacekeepers, told the crowd of protesters they could not hold a march, according to BBC. The security forces blocked the road before the shooting and stone throwing began.

The body of a young man was seen by journalists at the opposition party's headquarters, BBC reported.

The riots have raised fears that the country could descend into chaos following the elections. The presidential election is the first ones organized by Liberians since the end of the 14-year civil war in 2003. Johnson-Sirleaf was elected head of state in 2005 in elections run by the United Nations.

Johnson-Sirleaf, the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize winner, received almost 44 percent of the first round vote on Oct. 11, and her victory seems likely since she received the endorsement of the third-place finisher, former warlord Prince Johnson, Reuters reported.

More: Profile on former warlord Prince Johnson

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatches/globalpost-blogs/africa-emerges/liberia-election-riots-turn-deadly