Weah supporters in clashes with troops after Liberian poll defeat

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The Independent Online

Supporters of the Liberian presidential candidate George Weah clashed with United Nations peacekeepers in Monrovia as they protested against allegedly fraudulent results they said had robbed the former football star of a victory.

The angry demonstrations followed claims by Mr Weah's rival, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, that she had won the run-off in the war-ravaged west African state.

The protest, in which at least two people were injured, followed a plea from Mr Weah at his Congress for Democratic Change (CDC) headquarters for his supporters to remain calm and stay off the streets until an investigation into the alleged fraud and ballot tampering was resolved.

"I can see in your eyes, I can see in your faces that you are crying, but there is no need to cry because we have not lost the election," he told the crowd gathered on the dusty pitch outside his party seat. "But the streets of Monrovia do not belong to violent people. Do not, in the name of peace, go on the streets. Please, please, stay in your vicinities. Leave the streets of Monrovia; people are frightened. They want no more war. You can trust me. I will be here with you."

Thousands marched in the capital under tight surveillance by riot officers from both the national and United Nations police forces. They passed the headquarters of the National Elections Commission without incident, even as the chairwoman, Frances Johnson Morris, announced results from 97 per cent of polling stations that gave Ms Johnson-Sirleaf, a Harvard-educated banker,59.4 per cent, over Mr Weah's 40.6 per cent. "I am not marching for George Weah, I am marching for peace and justice," said 18-year-old Hezekiah George, who only became a Weah supporter after his original choice failed to make it through to the second-round vote on Tuesday. "Are we living in a monocracy or a democracy?"

Tuesday's second round came four weeks after a first-round presidential and legislative vote that saw Mr Weah, a former striker for Chelsea and AC Milan and former world footballer of the year, earn 28.3 per cent of roughly one million votes cast, ahead of 21 other candidates including Ms Johnson-Sirleaf. If elected, she would be Africa's first female elected president.

The polls were judged credible and peaceful by international observers from the European Union, the Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas) and the US-based transparency advocates the Carter Centre and National Democratic Institute. Only Ecowas judged them "free, fair and transparent", with the others preferring to wait until all results were in and the CDC complaints resolved.

The CDC had earlier petitioned the Supreme Court to suspend the counting over the fraud, which they allege included ballot-tampering, harassment and intimidation of voters.

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