Tuesday 20 March 2018

Liberia presidential vote poised for run-off

Liberia presidential vote poised for run-off
(APA 10/11/17)
A woman casts her ballot during presidential elections at a polling station in Monrovia, Liberia, October 10, 2017.

APA-Monrovia (Liberia) - Liberia’s presidential election is heading for a second round run-off vote with the two leading contenders, VP Joseph Boakai of the ruling Unity Party and the opposition Coalition for Democratic Change candidate, George Weah locked in a stalemate as the vote-counting continues into Wednesday.

20 candidates are running to replace 78-year-old Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, Africa’s first democratically elected female president who had ruled post-war Liberia since 2005.

It will also be the first time a democratically elected government transfers power to another through election since 1947.

Under Liberian electoral law, a presidential candidate must poll over 50 percent of the overall vote to avoid the exercise reaching a second round.

Reports monitored from the Liberian Broadcasting System strongly suggest that the two leading contenders have opened commanding leads in their respective home regions and polled just enough votes in other parts of the country to force the contest into a second round.

The state-run media television outlet reported in its newscast early on Wednesday “a likelihood that there will be a runoff election” according to unofficial figures seen by its correspondents deployed in different parts of the country.

Without giving figures, it said 72-year-old VP Boakai appears to be leading in his native Lofa County, in the northernmost region of Liberia.

Former World Player of the Year Weah is leading in some parts of the capital Monrovia including Clara town where he was born.

Former warlord Prince Johnson is also said to be performing better than his rivals in his native Nimba County, north-east of Liberia.

The National Electoral Commission said the results could be announced later on Wednesday or through the course of the week given the challenges of vote-tallying and counting.

As a result of power outages, several voting centres had to use flood lights during the counting of the ballots following the end of voting on Tuesday night.

Speaking at a press conference on Tuesday evening, NEC chairman Jerome Korkoya said the numbers of voters to polling centres across Liberia have been huge but stopped short of giving figures.

However, the election has been fraught with challenges.

In several parts of the country including Nimba County and Sinoe County and even parts of the capital Monrovia, voting started very late due to the late arrival of election materials.

Another challenge was the slowness of the process.

Over 2.1 million people were registered to vote at nearly 5,400 polling stations across Liberia for a president and a 73-member national assembly from 984 candidates.

It is the first exercise without the supervision of the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL).

Liberia a republic for freed slaves established by the United States in the 19th century has been rocked by two bloody civil conflicts which ended in 2003 with the deployment of UN peacekeepers.

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