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Liberia goes to polls for presidential elections

10 October 2017

The opposition candidates include ex-A.C. Milan soccer star George Weah, poultry farmer Benoni Urey and Prince Yormie Johnson, a former warlord turned preacher. He will be judged on his record in her government. Boakai is both campaigning on his record and promising an alternative vision.

Vice President Joseph Boakai of the ruling Unity Party (UP) is one of the contenders along with former worldwide football star George Weah who is heading up the main opposition Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC).

The European Union's observer mission for these elections, María Arena, stated that these will be 'a crucial test for the democratic process in Liberia, ' where it will be the first time since 1944 that a democratically elected leader handed over the power to another designated in the same way. His vice presidential pick is Jewel Howard Taylor, the ex-wife of former President Charles Taylor, who's serving a 50-year sentence in a United Kingdom prison for atrocities committed during a civil war in neighboring Sierra Leone.

Sirleaf, 78, also hailed Liberia's progress from a nation left in the ashes of war in 2003 to what she described as "one of the most vibrant democracies in the west Africa region" today.

Providing a safe and secure election environment will be the first big test for the newly empowered Liberian security forces, who remain under-equipped and underfunded, the United Nations says.

Skoog cited "issues pertaining to land use, decentralisation, access to justice, and violence against women" as the key flashpoints in Liberian society beyond the election period.

The nation was then hit by the Ebola crisis in 2014, which killed more than 4 800 people and devastated the nation's fragile health system.

However, the African Development Bank said in a May briefing that investment in electricity provision under Sirleaf "should begin to gradually alleviate a significant constraint to the business environment".

More than 2 million people, half of Liberia's population, are eligible to vote, the National Elections Commission said. If no candidate manages to win 50 percent of the vote, a runoff election will take place on November 7.

In such a crowded field without a clear frontrunner, a runoff looks highly likely, experts say.

Although there are several names on the presidential ballot, analysts have said four candidates have a strong chance of winning.

President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf to step aside after a maximum two terms.

Liberia goes to polls for presidential elections