Liberia: Counting on as country preps for first peaceful transfer of power

Liberia: Counting on as country preps for first peaceful transfer of power

Liberia has not witnessed a peaceful transition of power since 1944, and the fate of past presidents — since 1971, four of them have either died in office or been sent into exile — is so grim that many Liberians consider the presidential palace to be haunted.

That legacy hung over this West African nation, founded in the early 19th century by freed American slaves, on Tuesday as voters chose a successor to President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, whose term ends next month.

President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, a Nobel Peace Prize winner and the first female head of state elected in Africa, is stepping down at 79, after two terms in office.

The runoff election to determine her replacement is noteworthy — this will be the first time in 70 years that one democratically elected Liberian government passes power to another legitimately elected government.

While the aftermath of the Christmas festivity appears to have influenced voters’ turn out, many claimed that the trucking of voters during the October 10 vote was also responsible for the low turned out on December 26.

At some polling places, there were no queues at all and the process appeared to be a walk-in-process.

There was also less difficulty in finding names on the voters roll although there were few incidents where voters did not find their names.

Vote counting was underway in Liberia on Wednesday following a peaceful run-off election for a new president, pitting former international footballer George Weah against Vice-President Joseph Boakai.

Results of Tuesday’s vote are expected in a few days, in what would be the West African country’s first democratic transition since 1944, according to electoral officials.

The ballot was delayed for seven weeks due to legal challenges lodged by Boakai’s Unity Party against the electoral commission over the conduct of the first round of voting, but many of the complaints appeared to have been addressed in the second round.

The Liberia Elections Observation Network, which had more than 1,000 observers stationed across the country, hailed a vote it said had passed calmly with better organization than the first poll on October 10, as did observers from the European Union.

Former Nigerian president Goodluck Jonathan, who served as an electoral observer for the US-based National Democratic Institute (NDI), said a successful resolution to the process was of particular importance within the international community.

Source: SMBC & News Agencies

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