CISA REPORT: MONROVIA, Nov 15, 2011 (CISA) -Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s victory for a second term in office has been described as a boon for women despite the controversy surrounding an opposition boycott of the runoff.
“It is a big boost for us as women and it keeps us on the world stage,” said Yvette Chesson-Wureh, establishment coordinator at the Angie Brooks International Centre, a non-governmental organisation promoting women’s empowerment.
“Let everyone know that we have confidence in this government and in this woman’s ability to deliver.”
Chesson-Wureh added that Sirleaf’s win also “shows the rest of the world that she continues to serve as a role model to young women on the African continent.”
On Friday November 11, the National Elections Commission announced that, with 97.6 percent of the vote counted, Sirleaf had received 90.6 percent of votes in the race against her opponent, former diplomat Winston Tubman of the Congress for Democratic Change (CDC).
The runoff was not without controversy. In the days leading up to it, Tubman called for a boycott, citing alleged irregularities in the first round of voting in October. At a demonstration the day before the November 8 runoff, police opened fire on CDC supporters, killing at least two in an incident that Tubman says was an assassination attempt.
At a press conference on Saturday November 12, at CDC headquarters, where the shootings took place, Tubman reiterated his party’s position that it would not recognise the results of the runoff.
“It was, we believe, a political farce of the highest order, and therefore it must not be allowed to stand,” he said.
Tubman said CDC lawyers would push for an annulment of the results and for a new round of balloting to be scheduled.
Sirleaf said in an address to the nation on Friday that an independent commission would be established to investigate the shootings at CDC headquarters, and expressed regret for “a tragic loss of life and injury.”
“We cannot be clearer: All those found to have broken the law will be brought to justice,” she said.
She also dismissed the notion that the CDC’s boycott undermined the legitimacy of her win, and vowed to foster a government of inclusion.
“I will reach out to all the presidential candidates. What I will offer them is not yet known because I haven’t really focused on reorganising the government,” Sirleaf said.
Patience Heah, a 34-year-old Labour Ministry employee and member of Sirleaf’s Unity Party, said the president incumbent has done much to promote women’s empowerment, and that her very presence as a head of state was symbolically important. Sirleaf become Africa’s first female head of state when she was elected as president in 2006.
“It gives women the courage to push forward and not to be at the back looking at the men,” Heah said.
“No more will women sit and allow their male counterparts to rule over them. Things are now being done on a 50-50 basis.”