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UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
Tuesday 22 November 2005

LIBERIA: Weah facing heat to concede defeat

MONROVIA, 22 Nov 2005 (IRIN) - Pressure is mounting on George Weah, the former international football star and runner-up in this month’s presidential race in Liberia, to think of his country and concede defeat.

“For the sake of peace and moving Liberia forward, it is about time that Ambassador Weah accepts the election results and congratulates the winner,” said Sekou Damate Conneh, a presidential candidate in the first round of the elections, who subsequently threw his lot in with Weah for the runoff vote.

“This country has to move on,” the rebel leader turned politician told reporters on Tuesday.

Last week, unofficial results of the second round poll indicated that Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf would become Africa’s first female elected head of state after earning close to 60 percent of the votes.

Despite the international community’s assessment that the elections were free and fair, Weah cried fraud, claiming that some poll workers had stuffed the ballot boxes.

Weah, a former UN Ambassador also nicknamed ‘King George’, filed a complaint with the elections commission and his supporters staged three days of protests in the streets of the capital Monrovia.

The commission has begun looking into the case but still intends to declare the official election results on Wednesday as planned.

Meanwhile, there are calls for the former world footballer of the year to show the kind of sportsmanship he displayed as a striker for Chelsea and AC Milan.

“Weah is a professional footballer and on the field, once you are defeated, you should be able to accept defeat and I appeal to Weah to concede to the victor,” Lewis Zeigler, the head of the country’s Roman Catholic bishops, said on local radio on Monday.

Even some of Weah’s supporters have joined the chorus, asking their man to give in for the sake of peace in a country devastated by 14 years of fighting that only ended in 2003.

“We know that the results will not be overturned just because we filed a lawsuit,” said Daniel Cole who makes a living selling earrings and was still wearing his ‘Weah for President’ t-shirt. “It will be an honourable decision for our first partisan, Ambassador George Manneh Weah, to abandon the fraud case and accept the results for the good of Liberia.”

But for the time being, Weah’s Congress for Democratic Change (CDC) party is not backing down.

“As far as the CDC is concerned, we have not been defeated and we maintain that the election was fraudulent and we will not accept any results by the National Elections Commission,” the party’s secretary general, Eugene Nagbe, told IRIN on Tuesday.

Nagbe, who is currently a minister in the power-sharing transitional government that is expected to hand over power mid January, said his party would explore all their legal options in order to have their complaints addressed.

Weah has called on his supporters to avoid violence but security was tight in Monrovia on the eve of the official results announcement and both Liberian and UN security officials held meetings on Tuesday to plan for every eventuality.

Alan Doss, the head of the UN Mission in Liberia has said repeatedly that international peacekeepers are prepared to deal "robustly" with any post-election violence.

[ENDS]

This material comes to you via IRIN, a UN humanitarian information unit, but May not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations or its agencies. If you re-print, copy, archive or re-post this item, please retain this credit and disclaimer. Quotations or extracts should include attribution to the original sources. All materials copyright © UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs 2005



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