Official preliminary results are not due till 4 PM today, but unofficial results collected from various polling centers by a consortium of local media practitioners, as at press time Wednesday put President Sirleaf ahead with 156,310, votes translating in 44.43%, while CDC Cllr. Tubman is trailing with 131,215 votes, translating into 37.08%.
With just over 19.90% of the total ballot counted, Senator Prince Johnson's National Union for Democratic Progress or NUDP has edged out Cllr. Charles Brumskine of the Liberty Party at third position with 41,426 votes, translating into 11.53%, with Cllr. Brumskine trailing at 17, 486 votes amounting to 4.99%.
The media group maintained that these results are preliminary, unofficial, partial and reflective of results posted at various polling centers across the country. It stressed that the National Elections Commission or NEC is the only body clothed with the authority to announce certified, official and final results.
However, other unofficial results showed that President Sirleaf appeared to have topped the Western region of Liberia, while gaining huge votes in other vote-rich counties such as Lofa, Nimba, Margibi and Grand Bassa and sharing Montserrado County fairly with her closed rival former UN Diplomat Cllr. Tubman.
Tubman appeared to have dominated the South Eastern region which has predominantly low voting population. Bong County, which is one of the five vote rich counties, is being fiercely contested by the parties.Senator Prince Johnson's huge votes came primarily from his native Nimba where he appears to have defeated incumbent Sirleaf. Here the result also shows Cllr. Tubman's CDC performing dismally.
Local and international observers have described the Tuesday's poll as generally peaceful and have hailed Liberians for the orderliness that prevailed throughout on Tuesday.
The ECOWAS Observation Mission monitoring the elections on Wednesday released its preliminary declaration about the polls, hailing the orderliness that prevailed throughout the voting process and the high turnout by Liberians on Tuesday, 11 October to exercise their civic responsibilities.
The President of the ECOWAS Commission James Victor Gbeho, recently deployed a 150 observer mission here headed by the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission or INEC of Nigeria, Professor Attahiru Jega to monitor the country's first truly democratic elections since the 14-year civil conflict.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon in a statement also praised Liberians for heading to the polls in a peaceful manner.
NEC Chair, James Fromayan told local and international journalists here Tuesday night that initial results of the elections will be released today, but said polls results were being immediately posted at each polling place following counting.
During the 23 August national referendum, NEC similarly encountered some problems with poll workers as a result of delay in payment of allowances. This prompted demonstrations and seizures of ballot boxes by some poll workers.
Mr. Fromayan said it has now become the policy of the Commission to pay the poll workers before releasing the results. In the absence of the results, it is not clear as to how many voters showed up on Tuesday, despite the huge turnout.
Observers say the last minute pre-victory matches by political parties on the final day of campaign ahead of Tuesday's poll actually paid off as Liberians braved the rain and turned out in mass across the country.
Mr. Fromayan told this paper via mobile phone Tuesday that the reports from the field were impressive. The reports spoke of a well organized and peaceful process which started on schedule at most of the centers.
"On the overall, the NEC is glad that the 2001 legislature and presidential elections have been peacefully conducted," said Mr. Fromayan. About 1.7 million Liberian registered to participate in the elections, 200,000 more than the 1.5 million registered voters in 2005.
President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, speaking to journalists after casting her vote in her ancestor village of Fefe, Bomi County, said she was encouraged by the high turnout, adding that it demonstrates Liberians willingness to uphold democratic tenets.
The president praised the voters for their patience and discipline, saying "I feel so good for the Liberian people; they have demonstrated a certain level of political maturity.
Her immediate rival, Cllr. Winston Tubman, who voted here in the capital, described turnout as huge. A voter who cast his ballot at the main campus of the University of Liberia said: "I have done my part," as he walked out of the voting precinct.
Officers of the Liberian National Police, the Bureau of Immigration and Naturalization and personnel of UNPOL were deployed at the 4,457 polling places spread across the 1,780 voting precincts.