The government acknowledged Wednesday that there were "some errors" in the way Liberia's voting was conducted Tuesday, but it praised the election as one of "the most peaceful in Africa's history."
No official results were announced, and some Liberian political observers said it may be two weeks before the Special Election Commission publishes any returns.
Unofficial tabulations by party poll watchers indicated that the Liberia Action Party and its candidate, Jackson F. Doe, made a strong showing against the incumbent head of state, Samuel K. Doe, who came to power after a military coup in 1980. The two men are not related.
The Liberia Action Party said its unofficial tabulation indicated that it had carried the election with 70% of the vote in areas where its candidates were known to have strong support.
A runoff election would be necessary if no candidate gets a clear majority of the votes. Four candidates sought the presidency.
Questioned about accusations that voters were intimidated and that unauthorized polling stations were set up on military compounds, Minister of Information Carlton Karpeh acknowledged that there were "some difficulties" but said the overall conduct of the election was a tribute to the government's "determination to return the country to civilian rule."
"One or two errors cannot overshadow the overall success of the process," Karpeh said.
Army Polling Station
Three of the parties in the campaign against the head of state complained about an unauthorized polling station established at the main army camp in Monrovia, saying that their poll watchers could not observe the voting. They charged that some soldiers were voting more than once and that juveniles were given ballots.
One of Monrovia's newspapers headlined an interview with one of the soldiers who took part in the 1980 coup with Samuel Doe, then a master sergeant. The soldier, Col. Harrison Pennue, threatened in the interview to overthrow within three days any government that comes to power as a result of defeating Samuel Doe at the polls.
At a press conference organized by the Ministry of Information, Pennue denied making the threat. He said he was responding to a comment made by a local clergyman that the original coup plotters are murderers and deserve to be punished if a new government comes to power.
The clergyman, Methodist Bishop Arthur Kulah, denied making such a comment and produced as evidence his Sunday sermon, which he had tape-recorded.
The newspaper story created a small sensation in Monrovia because it played on suspicions voiced by many Liberians that Samuel Doe may refuse to step down if he loses the election.