lunedì 14 novembre 2011

Elezioni libere in Liberia

Violence has broken out at opposition headquarters in Liberia, killing at least one person hours before a presidential run-off today.

The vote will test the West African nation's fragile peace after a devastating civil war.

Despite sharp criticism from the United States, the UN and election monitors, opposition leader Winston Tubman kept urging supporters to boycott Tuesday's vote.

Demonstrators clashed with police in one rally backing the boycott, leaving one young man dead inside the headquarters of the opposition Congress for Democratic Change party, or CDC. Nearby, four others were screaming in pain from what appeared to be bullet wounds in their legs.

Walking between the wounded, Mr Tubman and running mate George Weah - the former world footballer of the year - said the violence was further proof the run-off should not go ahead.

Mr Tubman is trailing in the polls by a more than a 10-point margin and the boycott is seen by many as an effort to tarnish today's election in the face of his likely defeat.

The move will not stop incumbent Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, this year's Nobel Peace Prize laureate, from winning, but it could undercut her victory.

Worse, it would also cast doubt on an election that was supposed to solidify the nation's peace, eight years after Liberia emerged from a horrific 14-year civil war that left its rolling hills and towering forests dotted with mass graves.
"This decision is unfortunate for the electoral process in Liberia, and for Liberia's young democracy," said Gilles Yabi, the director of the International Crisis Group West Africa.

"It's motivated by the fact that they (Tubman's party) think they don't have a chance. It's a way to stain the election, to create a problem of credibility for the president."

The 73-year-old Ms Sirleaf made history in 2005 when she became Africa's first elected female president and again last month when she won the Nobel Peace Prize for her role in stabilising the country after a 2003 ceasefire.

The Harvard-trained economist is credited with luring hundreds of millions of donor dollars to her destroyed nation and getting $5bn (€3.63bn) of its external debt wiped clean.

Her critics, however, note that two out of every three Liberians still live in dire poverty and the country remains one of the least developed on the planet, according to World Bank and UN statistics.

Corruption and cronyism continue to erode institutions, and Mr Tubman and Mr Weah have complained that the country's electoral process was stacked in Ms Sirleaf's favour.

The opposition party began threatening a boycott after the first round of voting on October 11 showed that Ms Sirleaf led with around 40% to the CDC's roughly 30%. When the third-place finisher announced he was endorsing Ms Sirleaf, her victory seemed assured.

To participate in today's run-off, the CDC demanded that the head of the election commission be replaced - and he was.

Then last week, Mr Tubman said the changes did not go far enough and called for the election to be postponed. Then on Friday he called for a boycott when the government refused further concessions.

Outside observers said there was no reason for the boycott.
"Liberia has taken important steps to consolidate its democracy since the end of its civil war. Those gains must not be set back by individuals who seek to disrupt the political process," US President Barack Obama said in a statement.

"The international community will hold accountable those who choose to obstruct the democratic process. We encourage all security forces in Liberia to exercise maximum restraint and to allow peaceful protest."

The head of the Carter Centre's observation mission in Liberia, Alexander Bick, said his staff had travelled to all 15 counties in Liberia, and while small irregularities were noted, there was no evidence of systematic fraud.

Electoral law allows candidates to pull out before the start of the election, but once the election is already in progress, ballots cannot be altered, he said. So both Mr Tubman and Ms Sirleaf will appear on today's ballot. The boycott will not result in the vote being cancelled.

 Le tensioni fra le diverse etnie emerse durante il governo di Doe (1985-1989) fecero si che numerosi profughi sconfinassero dal nord della Liberia in Costa d'avorio. Charles Taylor, che era stato ministro di Doe e poi imprigionato per corruzione, accolse questi profughi e li addestrò militarmente, creando un piccolo esercito chiamato National Patriotic Front of Liberia, il 25 dicembre l'NPFL penetrò in Liberia. Qui Taylor ricevette l'apporto di un gran numero di ribelli delle etnie Gio e Mano e di altri gruppi. La successiva guerra civile fu estremamente cruenta.
Doe fu catturato da un gruppo di ribelli fuoriuscito dall'NPFL, che lo torturarono e poi procedettero alla sua esecuzione. Sconfitto il loro nemico comune, tuttavia, i ribelli si suddivisero in fazioni contrapposte, proseguendo nei combattimenti.
Nel 1995 si tenne una conferenza di pace, in questo contesto Taylor acconsentì a un cessate il fuoco. Due anni dopo vinse le elezioni presidenziali, sebbene i combattimenti e le violenze nel paese non fossero ancora terminati del tutto.

Nel 1999 scoppiò una nuov guerra civile, questa volta causata dalla nascita di un movimento di ribelli chiamato Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy, appoggiato dalla Guinea.  Taylor perse il controllo di gran parte del paese, e la stessa Monrovia fu messa sotto assedio.
Dopo un nuovo intervento delle forze dell'ECOWAS e degli Stati Uniti, l'11 agosto 2003 Taylor diede le dimissioni, trasferendosi in esilio in Nigeria.

Nel 2005 si tennero in Liberia elezioni democratiche multipartitiche, vinte da Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf. Johnson-Sirleaf fu il primo capo di stato di sesso femminile eletto della storia dell'Africa.

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