* Incumbent's rivals allege fraud, reject poll results so
* Election commission says poll fair
* Opposition parties to call for demonstration in Sunday
(Recasts with election commission reaction)
By Richard Valdmanis and Alphonso Toweh
MONROVIA, Oct 15 Nine Liberian opposition
parties, including President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf's two main
challengers, have rejected election results announced so far but
the poll organisers said the vote had been credible.
The row is the first sign of trouble in the West African
state's presidential election, the second post-war ballot which
is a key test of progress towards stability and its readiness
for investment in untapped mining, agricultural and oil
According to the latest results on Saturday, newly named
Nobel Peace laureate Johnson-Sirleaf was leading with 44.6
percent of the votes, ahead of Winston Tubman of the CDC party,
on 31.4 percent of some 950,000 valid votes counted.
Despite the lead, Johnson-Sirleaf remains short of the
outright majority required for a first-round win. The election
commission says results for about 80 percent of polling stations
have come in.
"We declare the results being reported by the National
Election Commission as fraud and are consequently declared null
and void by all parties signatory to this release," the
opposition said in a joint statement.
The statement, released before the latest batch of results
were announced, had been signed by nine parties representing
eight of the country's 14 presidential candidates, including
Tubman and third-placed former rebel Prince Johnson.
But the head of Liberia's election commission rejected the
allegations of fraud and said the vote would not be tarnished,
even if the opposition parties withdrew their officials from the
remainder of the counting process, as threatened.
"It doesn't pose any credibility problems," National
Election Commission Chairman James Fromayah told journalists.
"All the parties participated in the elections. The counting
was done and both the local population and the international
observers that came acclaimed the process to be free, fair and
An official from the Carter Center, an election watchdog,
said they were aware of the opposition statement but they had
not seen any evidence of fraud.
Some 1.8 million Liberians registered to vote that was
Liberia's first locally organised poll since an on-and-off
1989-2003 conflict, and if smooth could pave the way for
billions of dollars in mining and oil investment.
A run-off will take place in early November if no candidate
secures more than 50 percent.
The opposition party statement also said they would hold a
peaceful rally on Sunday.
Earlier, the election commission called on parties to use
legal channels to address complaints over the vote.
"We are concerned by the statements made by other political
actors, but ... we are assured of the credibility, transparency
and fairness of this election," Wilmot Paye, secretary general
of Johnson-Sirleaf's Unity Party, told reporters.
Although Johnson-Sirleaf has been widely praised abroad for
stabilising and starting to rebuild the country, critics say
progress has been too slow and they regularly complain about
poor infrastructure, the lack of services and rampant
Thousands of United Nations peacekeepers still play a key
role in ensuring security as all forces were dissolved after
conflict, during which all sides were accused of widespread
There was no immediate reaction in the streets of Monrovia
but in an apparent sign of tensions surrounding the poll, a
spokesman for the Unity Party said one of its offices had been
set ablaze overnight.
"We believe it was politically motivated," Bushema Keita
told Reuters. Paye called for supporters to remain calm.
Voting on Tuesday passed generally peacefully and no
observer missions have flagged any serious irregularities in the
process so far.
(Writing by David Lewis)