Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today urged the people of Liberia to refrain from violence despite political disagreement, and encouraged them to ensure that peace is maintained during the second round of presidential elections scheduled for Tuesday.
He said he supported the joint efforts by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and his Special Representative for Liberia, Ellen Margrethe Løj, to promote dialogue and build confidence in the electoral process.
In Tuesday’s presidential run-off, the incumbent, Nobel Peace laureate Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, is pitted against challenger Winston Tubman, who came second in the first round of the vote on 11 October, but media reports today indicated that Mr. Tubman has threatened to boycott the poll, alleging that it will not be fair.
“The Secretary-General stresses the importance of peaceful, credible, transparent elections and reaffirms the readiness of the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) to support the Liberian authorities, in accordance with its mandate,” said a statement issues by his spokesperson.
Sixteen candidates, including Ms. Johnson Sirleaf, ran in the first round, with no one winning the necessary 50 per cent plus one of the total votes. Ms. Johnson Sirleaf garnered 43.9 per cent of the nearly 1.3 million votes cast, while Mr. Tubman got 32.7 per cent.
The UN has maintained a peacekeeping force in Liberia since 2003 to bolster a ceasefire agreement ending a decade of war that killed nearly 150,000 people, mostly civilians, and sent 850,000 others fleeing to neighbouring countries. Its mandate includes helping to restore the rule of law and democratic processes as well as facilitating humanitarian assistance. It has a current strength of 7,775 troops and over 1,300 police officers.
UNMIL provided logistical support for the delivery of voter registration materials to remote locations and helped the national police develop an integrated security and contingency plan in the run-up to the poll. It also deployed more ground troops and increased air patrols to improve security.
Ms. Johnson Sirleaf won the first presidential election after the war in 2005, becoming the first elected woman head of State in Africa.