Liberia holds a new election on Tuesday, October 10, 2017, to elect a new president. This will be the hottest election ever conducted in the country to see the country’s first transfer of power from one democratically elected leader to another in more than 70 years after independence.
The first female president of the country, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, is now leaving power after serving as president for 12 years in office – probably, the maximum allowed under the West African country’s constitution.
Polls opened at 8:00am (0800 GMT) and will close at 06:00pm (1800 GMT). Twenty candidates, including the current vice president, former world footballer of the year and a model, are contesting for the country’s top seat – with 2.2 million voters registered in the small country of 4.6 million people.
“People have been queuing up since 5:30 am. They are very eager to cast their votes. A lot of passion and interest is being paid to this election,” Ahmed Idris, an Al Jazeera news reporter said.
According to regulations in the country’s electoral system, for a candidate to be declared a winner, they must get at least 50 percent of the votes cast, plus one. With no clear favorite, the second round of voting is likely. Liberians will also elect 73 members of the upper house representatives in this year’s election.
The upper house uses a first-past-the-post system, where the representative with the highest number of votes is elected. No senators (lower house) will be elected this year.
Provincial results are expected within 48 hours, but the electoral body has until October 25 to issue its final confirmation of the results and to announce a run-off if the need arises.
President Sirleaf, who is now 78 years old and leaving office, pleaded with the eligible voter’s respect and accept the outcome of the hotly contested election regardless of who wins.
“Go to the polls peacefully, respecting every Liberian’s right to vote with dignity and pride. Embrace your neighbor, regardless of their political choice,” Sirleaf, popularly knowns Ellen Ma, said in a speech broadcast on state television.
“The future of the country is in your hands. Vote for the person and persons you believe will make Liberia a better place. The world will be watching. Let’s make them proud,” she said.
Liberia, Africa’s first republic, came out of a brutal 14-year civil war which left an estimated 250,000 million people dead in 2003.
Watch full video of the whole election process
SOURCE: Al Jazeera News