Jamaica Gleaner / MONROVIA (AP):

Young Liberians went straight from all-night Christmas celebrations to the polls yesterday for a run-off election between a former international soccer star and the country’s vice-president, who are vying to replace Africa’s first female head of state.

For the first time in more than 70 years, the West African nation founded by freed American slaves will see one democratically elected government hand power to another.

Nearly 2.2 million voters have the choice between 51-year-old former soccer star and senator George Weah and 73-year-old Joseph Boakai, who has been vice-president for 12 years.

Nobel Peace Prize winner Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, 79, is stepping down after two terms in office that brought the impoverished country out of back-to-back civil wars and saw it grapple with a deadly Ebola outbreak.

The run-off had been contested twice in court amid claims of irregularities, with its original November 7 date delayed.

The first-round October 10 election brought high numbers of voters, and officials hoped Tuesday’s vote would be no different. The National Elections Commission has said voter lists have been cleaned up according to Supreme Court orders. They had been posted at all 5,390 voting places.

As polls closed around 6 p.m., election workers said turnout wasn’t as high as the October elections because legislative candidates who were helping transport people to polling stations were not participating in this vote. Some Liberians complained they weren’t able to find their names at voting stations, so they couldn’t cast a ballot.

Results for the run-off will be announced progressively, though the commission has two weeks to give final results.


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