MONROVIA, Nov 10, 2005 -- Harvard-trained Iron Lady Ellen
Johnson-Sirleaf appeared to be the first female president in Africa as
results from nearly 90 percent of the polling stations on Thursday gave
her a commanding advantage over football great George Weah in Liberia's
post-war presidential runoff.

The 66-year-old grandmother and former finance minister had 59. 2
percent of the votes while the 39-year-old former FIFA player of the
year had 40.8 percent, Frances Johnson-Morris, chairwoman of the
National Elections Commission, told a news conference.

The results, she said, are from 2,719 of the 3,070 polling stations
across the war-torn west African country.

Weah on Wednesday claimed that the election was marred by fraud and
accused Johnson-Morris of bias against him. He told a news conference
that more than 35 pre-marked ballot papers intended to be stuffed in
ballot boxes in favor of his challenger, were intercepted by his
supporter as evidence to prove his claims.

"The NEC (National Elections Commission) has received a formal
complaint from the Congress for Democratic Change (Weah's party),"
Johnson-Morris said earlier.

"We have attached very much importance to the complaint and will
immediately begin investigation and do everything expeditiously to
dispose of the case."

Analysts fear the worst that angry supporters of Weah, mostly youth,
might turn to violence over the fraud allegations if he lost to
Liberia's foremost female politician. Weah and Johnson- Sirleaf
obtained 28.3 percent and 19.8 percent respectively in the first round.

Liberia, founded in 1847 by freed American slaves, experienced a bloody
civil war from 1989 to 2003 in which an estimated 250,000 people, about
eight percent of its population, died and about one million made

No matter who wins eventually, the issues she or he will have to
contend with are reconciliation among Liberians and reconstruction of
basic social services such as schools, health care facilities, roads,
safe drinking water, electricity as well as reintegrating thousands of
ex-combatants and the creation of job opportunities.

Illiteracy rate in the west African state stands at about 85 percent
unemployment is put at 80 percent. The country also owes an external
debt around 3 billion US dollars.

And the election is seen as the last hope of the war-torn country,
blessed with diamond, gold, timber, iron ore and rubber as well as
fertile soil, for a brighter future provided the outcome is accepted by
all Liberians.


Johnson-Sirleaf Leads in Liberian Presidential Run-off
By VOA News
10 November 2005

Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf (file photo)
Former Liberian Finance Minister Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf has moved closer to becoming Africa's first democratically-elected female president, taking a strong lead in Liberia's presidential run-off.

With nearly two-thirds of the ballots counted, Mrs. Johnson-Sirleaf leads with 56 percent of the votes. Her opponent, millionaire former soccer (football) star George Weah, has 44 percent.

George Weah (file photo)
Mr. Weah raised allegations of election fraud Wednesday, saying there were major irregularities during Tuesday's run-off election.

Election officials said Mr. Weah has not submitted any evidence to the electoral commission to support his claims.

This was Liberia's first election since 2003, when Charles Taylor stepped down as president under international pressure, ending 14 years of almost non-stop civil war.