Liberians Cast Ballots for New President

Polls have closed in Liberia, where voters Tuesday cast ballots in a presidential election that marks the West African nation's first fully democratic transition of power in more than 70 years.

The country's 2.1 million registered voters were choosing the successor to Nobel Peace laureate Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Africa's first female elected head of state, who is stepping down after serving two six-year terms, as mandated by Liberia's constitution.

The officials results are expected in two weeks.

The U.S. State Department called the election "an important step toward achieving Liberia's first peaceful transfer of power from one democratically elected head of state to another."

With 20 people running for the nation's highest office, analysts do not believe anyone will win over 50 percent of the vote, forcing a runoff in November.

Among those looking to replace President Sirleaf are her vice president, Joseph Bokai, football icon George Weah, opposition leader Charles Brumskine, and ex-Coca-Cola executive Alexander Cummings. Only one woman is vying for the presidency, while another woman, Jewel Howard Taylor, is the running mate of George Weah.

Taylor is the ex-wife of former president and warlord Charles Taylor, who was convicted of war crimes in connection with his role in the conflict in neighboring Sierra Leone.

Sirleaf has led Liberia through a prolonged period of peace in the aftermath of a 14-year civil war that ended in 2003. But the country remains plagued by corruption, and is still trying to recover from the Ebola crisis that killed 5,000 people in 2014 and 2015.

Source: Voice of America

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