Connect to share and comment

A daily chronicle of a rapidly changing continent.

Liberia lines up for round two

Prince Johnson backs incumbent President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf in run-off.
Prince johnson 2011 10 18Enlarge
Former Liberian warlord Prince Johnson announced that he will support President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf in the upcoming run-off expected on Nov. 8. He is shown here giving an exclusive interview to AFP on Oct. 26, 2008, in Monrovia, Liberia. (Zoom Dosso/AFP/Getty Images)

A former Liberian warlord described President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf as “the lesser of two evils” in announcing his decision to back her in Liberia’s second round runoff election, after no candidate got more than half the votes required for an outright win.

With nearly all the votes counted, Johnson Sirleaf has a lead of 44 percent, with Winston Tubman in second place with 32 percent and Prince Johnson — the notorious ex-rebel leader — in third place with 12 percent. A runoff is set for Nov. 8.

Johnson has made much of his default role as a power broker and crowed to the press about being Liberia’s “kingmaker.”

More: What's at stake in Liberia's election

After an abortive threat to pull out of Liberia’s second round of elections citing fraud, Tubman has confirmed he will in fact take part alongside his ex-soccer player running-mate George Weah.

Weah and Sirleaf fought it out in a bitter and occasionally violent runoff in 2005, so this year looks like an almost-repeat, except for the presence of Tubman who plays the senior statesman to Weah’s crowd-pleasing populist.

More: Sirleaf slammed by election candidate

In one interview Johnson explained his decision to back Sirleaf’s Unity Party (UP) rather than Tubman’s Congress for Democratic Change (CDC) in self-serving terms, saying he hoped to avoid being punished for any past misdeeds.

Johnson and Sirleaf were both named by the country’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) as being unfit for office.

"I have decided to join [Sirleaf’s] Unity Party because the CDC officials have said that they will do everything to implement the TRC recommendations … I prefer dealing with Ellen Johnson Sirleaf who is also indicted by the TRC,” Johnson said.
 

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatches/globalpost-blogs/africa-emerges/liberia-lines-round-two