Initial results were expected Thursday in Liberia’s landmark presidential poll, the country’s first democratic transfer of power in decades, pitting former footballer George Weah against Vice President Joseph Boakai. Whoever wins will succeed Africa’s first elected female head of state, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, who took over at the helm of the small west African nation in 2006. Sirleaf’s predecessor Charles Taylor fled the country in 2003, hoping to avoid prosecution for funding rebel groups in neighbouring Sierra Leone, while two presidents who served prior to Taylor were assassinated. The tumultuous events of the past seven decades in Liberia, where an estimated 250,000 people died during back-to-back civil wars between 1989-2003, means a democratic handover has not taken place since 1944.
“No matter the results, we will accept it without causing problems. We don’t need trouble here anymore,” said Samuel Nuahn, 46, who voted for establishment candidate Boakai in Tuesday’s run-off.
Initial provisional results of the ballot were due later in the day, the National Electoral Commission (NEC) said on Facebook, without providing further details on timing.
Local media said Weah, who topped the first round of voting in October with 38.4 percent of ballots but failed to win the 50 percent necessary to avoid a run-off, was ahead.