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Glenna Gordon: Liberia’s Fraught Election

November 11, 2011

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Photographer Glenna Gordon captures Liberia’s first independent presidential elections and the rough aftermath.

By **Glenna Gordon**

By arrangement with Scarlett Lion.

As it stands, Liberia’s incumbent president (and recent Nobel Peace Prize winner) Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has won another six-year term with 90.8 percent of the vote.

But the opposition, the Congress for Democratic Change (CDC)—led by former Justice Minister Winston Tubman—refused to participate in this week’s runoff, claiming evidence of fraud during the first round of voting. If a presidential run-off election happens, Tubman said last Sunday, then Liberia could tip into chaos not seen since its civil war. Tubman—s warning came true the following day, as shots were fired at the Congress for Democratic Change (CDC) headquarters in Monrovia.

Guernica assistant art editor and photographer Glenna Gordon has been following the past month’s events. Below is her photo record of the election and its aftermath.

Liberia Voting Day – October 12, 2011

Voting in Liberia’s elections yesterday was calm and organized. I spent most of the day in Bomi Country waiting for Ellen Johnson Sirleaf to vote, and then came back to Monrovia in the evening.

EJS stood in line for nearly half an hour before a special line for the “elderly” was created so she could be fast tracked to vote. I hear the Tubman and Weah didn’t wait in line at all.

Riot in Monrovia – November 7, 2011

Around 1 pm, word spread that shots had been fired at the CDC headquarters in Monrovia. When I arrived, CDC supporters eagerly escorted me upstairs into the room in the main building where a man, shot in the head, was clearly dead. They said others had died too, as many as four or five. Others were injured as well. The phone network went out, and it was hard to tell what was happening.

The strangest part was a stand off between the Liberian riot police and the Nigerian UNMIL unit. The jury is still out on what happened there. It seemed that many people were itching for a fight.

“Tonight, tonight there will be a massacre.” I heard it again and again. Let’s all hope it isn’t true.

Voting, redux – November 9, 2011

After Monday’s chaos, Tuesday was eerily calm. Between the boycott and the violence, few ventured out to vote. We’ll see what’s next.

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Glenna Gordon is an American photographer and journalist who splits her time between New York and Africa. Her photographs are intimate descriptions of daily life, from the mundane to the exceptional, the political to the passionate. She attended UC Berkeley and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. Glenna first visited Africa in 2006, lived there for the next four years, and continues to travel to East and West Africa regularly.

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One comment for Glenna Gordon: Liberia’s Fraught Election

  1. Comment by Francisco Silva on November 16, 2011 at 3:04 pm

    Liberia is one of the most difficult beats a journalist could tackle.

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