U.S. foresees crisis in Liberia’s election, warns citizens

The U.S. government, through its embassy in Monrovia, has warned of possible violence before or after Tuesday’s presidential run-off elections in Liberia.

In a statement on Sunday, the embassy warned American citizens resident in or travelling to Liberia that criminal elements could take advantage of a large political or social gathering to attack participants or others nearby.

“Even intended to be peaceful can turn confrontational and escalate into violence.

“You should avoid areas of demonstrations and protests and exercise caution if in the vicinity of any large gatherings.

“Monitor media and local information sources regarding election-related developments, and factor updated information into personal travel plans and activities.

“Avoid crowds and remain alert when using public transportation,” it said.

The embassy urged U.S. citizens to report specific safety concerns to local law enforcement authorities.

It also advised them to stay in touch with their family members and ensure they knew how to reach them in the event of an emergency.

According to the embassy, those concerned should expect restrictions on traffic circulation, either imposed by the authorities or caused by political rallies.

The run-off is between former world footballer of the year, George Weah, of the opposition Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) and incumbent Vice President, Joseph Boakai, of the ruling Unity Party (UP).

Both men are battling to succeed outgoing President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, whose constitutional two terms in office end in January.

Weah led 21 other presidential candidates in the first round with 38 per cent of the total votes cast, while Boakai came second with 29 per cent.

They both fell short of the 50 per cent plus one vote stipulated by the Constitution for a winner to emerge in the first round.