Liberia
Ellen Sirleaf Johnson

Voters in Liberia are set to elect a new President, as President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf prepares to step down after 12 years in power.

Polling stations have opened across Liberia as the nation elects its next president and 73 members of the House of Representatives.

Report says this election is expected to mark the first time in 73 years that a democratically elected president is peacefully handing over power to a successor chosen by the people in Liberia.

72-year-old Johnson Sirleaf, a Nobel Peace Prize-winner often dubbed the “Iron Lady,” will be retiring after completing her two six-year terms in office.

Twenty candidates are in the race for president but electoral observers say that there are only three major contenders who analysts believe have a real chance of winning.

They are Vice President Joseph Boakai of the ruling Unity Party (UP), former international football star George Weah, who leads the main opposition Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) and Charles Brumskine, the head of the Liberty Party (LP).

Boosting the economy, creating jobs and fighting corruption are high on the agenda of all candidates’ campaigns.

The last peaceful transfer of power between two democratically elected presidents took place in Liberia in 1944 when former President Edwin Barclay handed over to William Tubman.

Voter turnout is impressive, judging by long queues that stretched several metres away from the voting points while accreditation and voting are going side by side.

Some of the voters interviewed said they had been on queue since 5:30 a.m. to ensure they vote early and security presence is light; the voters are orderly and waited patiently.

Traffic was light even though there was no restriction to movement of vehicles.

People closed shops and deserted markets in the early part of the day so as to partake in the elections.

Liberia remains one of the poorest countries in the world and continues to struggle with the aftermath of the 2013-15 Ebola crisis, which killed over 4,000 people nationwide.

As well as a brutal 14-year civil war that ended in 2003 after having claimed over 250,000 lives and displaced about a million people.

The roughly 2.2 million registered voters in the country of 4.1 million are also set to elect 73 members of the House of Representatives on Tuesday.

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