MONROVIA (Reuters) - Liberian opposition leaders Winston Tubman and George Weah said on Friday that President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf did not deserve the Nobel Peace Prize and awarding it to her was a “provocative intervention” in Liberian politics.
Sirleaf, who won the prize along with fellow Liberian Leymah Gbowee, a peace activist, and Yemeni pro-democracy campaigner Tawakul Karman, faces Tubman and 14 other candidates in a first-round presidential vote on October 11.
“She does not deserve it. She is a warmonger. She brought war on our country and spoiled the country,” Tubman told Reuters late on Friday during a rally by his CDC party in a stadium packed with 60,000 people in the Liberian capital.
“Now she has said she will run again and on the eve of the election the Nobel Peace Prize committee gives her this prize, which we think is a provocative intervention within our politics,” he said.
Earlier in Oslo on Friday, Norwegian Nobel Committee chairman Thorbjoern Jagland dismissed suggestions that the award to Sirleaf might look like meddling in the Liberian vote.
Tubman’s presidential running mate Weah, a former Liberian soccer star, said he did not care about the prize because Sirleaf did not deserve it. “She won it but I don’t know for what,” Weah also told Reuters.
“Every Liberian is preparing for Madame Sirleaf to leave power and we will tell the world that we are tired of her inability to reconcile us and we will tell her that we are getting ready for her to leave power in October 11,” he said.
The Nobel committee said all three women were rewarded for “their non-violent struggle for the safety of women and for women’s rights to full participation in peace-building work.”
Sirleaf’s detractors say she has not done enough to heal her West African nation’s divisions. She has admitted providing supplies and money to rebel leader and indicted war criminal Charles Taylor in the early years of Liberia’s civil war, something her critics say dims her image as a promoter of peace.
Analysts have said the award was likely to bolster Sirleaf’s chances at the poll, even possibly allowing her to win an absolute majority in the first round and avoid a run-off, but also risks aggravating tension in a country scarred by civil war.