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Africa to get its first elected female ruler

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  • Greg Cannon
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/4421866.stm Liberia s Iron lady claims win Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, known as the Iron Lady , has claimed victory as the
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 10, 2005
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      http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/4421866.stm

      Liberia's 'Iron lady' claims win

      Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, known as the "Iron Lady", has
      claimed victory as the first woman to be elected
      president in Liberia, and Africa as a whole.

      With 90% of ballots counted, she had won 59% of the
      vote to leave her main rival, George Weah, trailing on
      41%.

      She told the BBC she hoped Mr Weah would join her new
      government after "getting over his disappointment".

      Observers declared the vote "peaceful and transparent"
      but Mr Weah alleged fraud and criticised polling
      officials.

      "I think the results are very clear: that the Liberian
      people have chosen and I am humbled by the fact that
      they have elected me to lead the effort of
      reconciliation and development," Mrs Johnson-Sirleaf
      told the BBC's World Today programme.

      She told Reuters news agency she hoped her win in the
      second and final round of the election would "raise
      the participation of women not just in Liberia but
      also in Africa".

      Her victory in the country's first presidential
      election after 14 years of civil war has not been
      declared by the electoral authorities and the United
      Nations peace keeping force in Liberia has put extra
      troops on the streets in case of any unrest.

      'See reason'

      A senior diplomat following the election closely said
      he thought there had been some irregularities, but
      that these would not influence the final outcome.

      Mr Weah accuses election commission officials of
      illegally casting ballots in favour of Mrs
      Johnson-Sirleaf.

      The allegation is being investigated and some of his
      supporters are extremely angry, saying they have been
      cheated, the BBC's Mark Doyle reports from Monrovia.

      Some of his supporters have held small protests,
      chanting "No George, no peace".

      But the head of the Economic Community of West African
      State (Ecowas) observer mission, E M Debrah, said the
      preliminary conclusion was that the election had been
      "generally peaceful, free, fair and transparent".

      Mrs Johnson-Sirleaf said she hoped Mr Weah would "see
      reason" and l accept the result, and added she was
      ready to offer him a place in her government.

      Contrasts

      Many of Liberia's 100,000 ex-combatants from all
      factions in the war backed Mr Weah in the election.

      But the former AC Milan and Chelsea star urged his
      supporters "to remain calm for the sake of peace"
      until investigations into the alleged fraud were
      completed.

      Mr Weah showed ballot papers to journalists, which he
      said had been pre-marked for Mrs Johnson-Sirleaf,
      known as the "Iron Lady" and given to election
      officials to cast.

      "The world is saying this election was free and fair,
      which was not true," he said at a news conference.

      Liberians have been glued to their radios, listening
      to initial preliminary results coming in from
      individual polling stations.

      Mr Weah is the best-known Liberian in the world and
      came top in the first round of voting, with 28% of
      ballots cast.

      Our correspondent says as a political candidate his
      feel-good factor is immense but his opponents say he
      is young, inexperienced and surrounded by political
      opportunists.

      They say Mrs Johnson-Sirleaf, 67, a former World Bank
      economist, is better qualified for the job.

      The "Iron Lady" received 20% of the vote in the first
      round and is popular with women and the educated
      elite.
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