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Liberia to vote in delayed run-off for new president

By AFP - Dec 24,2017 - Last updated at Dec 24,2017

Joseph Nyuma Boakai, Liberia’s vice president and presidential candidate of the Unity Party, speaks during a campaign rally in Monrovia, Liberia, on Sunday (Reuters photo)

MONROVIA — Liberians choose a new leader on Tuesday in a run-off between Vice President Joseph Boakai and footballing icon George Weah, a vote that will mark the country’s first democratic transition since 1944.

After seven weeks of delays caused by legal complaints lodged by Boakai’s ruling Unity Party against the country’s electoral commission, polling stations are due to open at 8:00am (08:00GMT) and close at 6:00 pm for Liberia’s 2.1 million registered voters.

Weah’s Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) has urged voters not to drink too much on Christmas Day and to get up early on the 26th to cast their ballots in what National Elections Commission (NEC) Chairman Francis Korkoya has said is “one sacrifice for the good of our democracy and country”.

They will choose a successor to President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, who is due to step down in January after 12 years at the helm of the west African nation, resurrecting it from the ashes of civil war (1989-2003) and overseeing the response to the Ebola crisis (2014-16).

In the first round of voting on October 10, Weah topped the poll with 38.4 per cent while Boakai came second with 28.8 per cent, triggering a run-off as neither made it past the 50 per cent needed to win outright.

“It’s too close to call,” said Ibrahim Al Bakri Nyei, a Liberian political analyst at London’s School of Oriental and African Studies, saying Weah was in a similar position to 2005 when he lost despite widespread predictions of victory.

 

Given the date of the vote, “it’s likely to have a lower turnout than the first one”, he predicted.

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