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A Libéria vive mais um momento importante em sua frágil democracia… Apesar dos dois candidatos serem muito qualificados, comprometidos com a democracia, e dispostos a continuar o processo de reconstrução da Libéria, sempre me preocupam esses momentos eleitorais. Afinal, estamos a tratar da África e não se deve desconsiderar a hipótese da barbárie voltar ao país, assolado por 14 anos de uma sangrenta guerra civil.

Oxalá a democracia consiga se consolidar naquele país africano…

Sempre que acusam o colonizador de ser a causa de todos os problemas da África (aí incluídas a guerra, a fome e a peste), lembro-me da Libéria… Afinal, o país nunca foi colônia, tendo sido criado no século XIX para receber ex-escravos oriundos dos EUA.

A situação da África é mais complexa e envolve elites que assumiram o poder com a saída do colonizador e estabeleceram regimes corruptos, autoritários e exploradores de seu próprio povo. Daí as sangrentas guerras civis, em que os grupos que lutavam entre si tinham tudo menos a preocupação com a população, que acabava vítima dos dois lados. E vítimas de atrocidades indescritíveis e até inimagináveis, diga-se de passagem.

E o pior é que o futuro do continente continua trevoso…

BBC NEWS AFRICA – 18 October 2011 Last updated at 11:39 GMT –

Liberia vote: Prince Johnson backs President Sirleaf

 Former rebel leader Prince Johnson, who came third in Liberia’s election, says he will back Nobel Peace Prize-winner President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf in the second round.

“She is the lesser of two evils,” he told the BBC. Forces loyal to Mr Johnson infamously filmed the torture and murder of dictator Samuel Doe.

Mrs Sirleaf’s opponent will be former UN diplomat Winston Tubman

This is Liberia’s second election since the end of a 14-year civil war in 2003.

With almost all the ballots counted, Mrs Sirleaf has 44% against 32% for Mr Tubman, with Mr Johnson on 12%.

A candidate needs most than 50% for outright victory.

Over the weekend, opposition parties – including those of Mr Tubman and Mr Johnson – said they were pulling out of the election, accusing the National Elections Commission (NEC) of rigging it in favour of the incumbent.

But Mr Tubman has since confirmed that he will take part in the run-off, provisionally set for 8 November.

Mrs Sirleaf, who was earlier this month awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, won the 2005 election to become Africa’s first female elected head of state.

Analysis

image of Thomas Fessy Thomas Fessy BBC News, Monrovia

Prince Johnson openly takes responsibility for the 1990 killing of Samuel Doe. However, he denies being a war criminal and describes himself as a “liberator”.

That’s how he was seen in his native Nimba County, when he first took up arms against Doe’s regime. People there largely vote along ethnic lines and gave Prince Johnson a first go at democracy when he returned from exile in Nigeria and overwhelmingly won a Senate seat in 2005.

Yet his name was top of a list drawn up by the TRC in 2009 of the “most notorious perpetrators” of war crimes.

This will put pressure on Nobel laureate Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. But she needs Mr Johnson’s supporters. So do Winston Tubman and George Weah.

Prince Johnson has the reputation of being unpredictable. Last Saturday, he was lambasting the electoral commission as fraudulent alongside Mr Weah and opposition parties. The previous day he was bad-mouthing Mrs Sirleaf.

Prince Johnson is a key player ahead of the run-off but his supporters will need a clear directive which way to vote. The game has only just started.

She defeated former footballer George Weah, who is Mr Tubman’s running mate this time.

Mrs Sirleaf has not commented on Mr Johnson’s endorsement but before the announcement told the BBC that she was “ready to work with all Liberians”.

She said that as a Nobel laureate, “I must continue to work for peace and reconciliation”.

Mr Johnson accused the Tubman-Weah camp of not being interested in reconciliation and only representing one part of the country.

He also noted that they had previously called for him to be punished because of his role in the war, as recommended by Liberia’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

The TRC also said that Mrs Sirleaf should be barred from public office because of her backing for Charles Taylor – the former rebel leader and president currently on trial in The Hague.

Mrs Sirleaf has ignored the recommendation and points out that she has apologised and did not back Mr Taylor for long before falling out with him.

Mr Johnson said the price for his support would be a share of power and jobs for his former fighters.

After the war, he became a born-again Christian pastor and was elected to the Senate in the 2005 poll.

Liberia’s presidential rivals

Ellen Johnson Sirleaf:

  • Africa’s first female elected head of state
  • Harvard-trained economist
  • Finance minister before Samuel Doe’s 1980 coup
  • Twice forced into exile
  • Initially backed then-rebel leader Charles Taylor before falling out with him
  • Won 2011 Nobel Peace Prize for helping end Liberian conflict

Winston Tubman:

  • Nephew of Liberia’s longest-serving President William Tubman
  • Harvard-trained lawyer
  • Justice minister under Samuel Doe
  • UN envoy to Somalia from 2002 to 2005
  • Came fourth in 2005 election
  • Running mate is ex-football star George Weah

The BBC’s Jonathan Paye-Layleh in the capital, Monrovia, says Mr Johnson enjoys strong support in his home area of Nimba County, the region with the second highest number of voters after the capital, Monrovia.

The election has been largely peaceful, however an office of Mrs Sirleaf’s Unity Party was on Saturday morning burnt to the ground in an apparent arson attack in Monrovia. It is not clear who was responsible.

The NEC, which is running its first poll, has rejected the accusations of fraud but Mr Tubman said the opposition threat to boycott the second round had prevented the NEC from declaring that Mrs Sirleaf had won in the first round.

On Saturday, opposition parties said they could offer photographs and witnesses to back their claims that the NEC had manipulated vote-counting in favour of President Sirleaf.

Her party said it was not surprised by the allegations, accusing the opposition of being bad losers.

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