Africa to get its first elected female ruler
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
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
"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.
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
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.
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
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
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
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