Sirleaf and her running mate, the current vice president Joseph Nyema Boakai, took 44.5 percent of the vote and an 18 percent lead over Mr. Tubman and Mr. Weah. Former warlord and current Sen. Prince Johnson – best known around the globe for the key role he played Liberia’s first civil war, including capturing and killing former President Samuel Doe, and his battles with Charles Taylor’s National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL) – took 13.5 percent of the vote.
Mr. Johnson has widely been quoted by media outlets saying he will be “the kingmaker” and has said he will support the CDC if either party was unable to take 51 percent of the vote and the elections were driven to a second round. Some analysts say it remains unclear as to whom Johnson will back. However there is a chance Johnson, who remains popular in his home county of Nimba, where he was elected as a senator in 2005, could determine who takes the presidency.
“He is a difficult man and he is erratic and unpredictable,” said Dan Saryee, executive director of the Liberia Democratic Institute. “Even though he pronounced that he supported CDC, because of his erratic nature I wouldn’t rely on that.”
However, Saryee says that Johnson is holding enough of the vote at the moment to pose a threat to the Unity Party’s chances at reelection. “If he [Johnson] still takes the same line and supports the CDC, it means that the Unity Party will have to do a lot of work. He does have a lot of the vote given the provisional results we have.”
While there has been a great deal of commentary on whether there will be a runoff, fewer than 200,000 of the 1.7 million votes have been tallied and only 2.5 percent of votes counted in the key county of Montserrado, in which the capital and around 35 percent of the voting population are located. Thus, the implications of the results still remain unclear. The NEC will be releasing additional preliminary results today and final results on Oct. 26 that will determine whether there will be a run off, with one party needing to take 51 percent of the vote in order to claim victory.