Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, President of the Republic of Liberia. The west African nation has been a focal point in the international traffic of illegal diamonds., a photo by Pan-African News Wire Photo File on Flickr.
Liberia's Sirleaf may offer rivals government posts
By Alphonso Toweh and Richard Valdmanis
MONROVIA (Reuters) - Liberia's Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf may, if re-elected, offer government posts to rivals in a spirit of reconciliation after a deadly crackdown on an opposition protest, a spokesman said on Thursday.
Newly-named Nobel peace laureate Johnson-Sirleaf is tipped to win a second term in the war-scarred West African country after rival Winston Tubman dropped out of a November 8 run-off vote, alleging fraud in an October first round won by the incumbent.
"She will reach out to key opposition leaders as well as members of other political parties and Liberian citizens in general," said Norris Tweah, the Information Ministry spokesman.
Tweah said that included Tubman's CDC party and added that a government role for Tubman himself was not ruled out.
"If it means she will form a national government of inclusion, she will do so. There are good people in the CDC camp," he said.
Results from Tuesday's run-off are due to start coming in on Thursday. Although Tubman dropped out and urged Liberians to boycott the vote, his name appeared on ballot slips. A low turnout could raise questions over the credibility of the vote.
Liberian police used tear gas, truncheons and live rounds to disperse hundreds of CDC supporters who had spilt onto a major roadway near their headquarters on Monday, leaving two dead. U.N. peacekeepers were present in support of the police.
Former U.N. diplomat Tubman, who was in the CDC headquarters at the time of the clash, has accused authorities of staging an attempt on his life, something the government denied.
"There was no time during the riot that the police tried to kill him," Tweah said.
Tubman has not reacted to the possible offer but previously said the incident on Monday could make power-sharing "unlikely or impossible" and he was considering a legal challenge to the results of the run-off.
Tubman took about 33 percent of the first-round ballots, to Johnson-Sirleaf's 44 percent.
The election is the first locally organised presidential vote in Liberia since 14 years of fighting ended in 2003. The United Nations staged a previous vote in 2005 which also ended in a dispute.
Liberia wants to put the conflict behind it and use its iron and other resource wealth to rebuild. Critics of Johnson-Sirleaf, Africa's first freely elected female head of state, say progress in her first term was too slow.
Liberia received a blow to its reconstruction hopes on Wednesday as tests from its offshore Montserrado well failed to confirm the presence of oil in commercial quantities.
(Editing by Mark John)