Liberians head to polls to replace first African female president

By Sara Shayanian  |  Oct. 10, 2017 at 8:08 AM
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Oct. 10 (UPI) -- Voters in Liberia head to the polls Tuesday to vote in the country's third election since becoming a democracy in 2005 -- and the first to replace Africa's first female president.

The election will replace President and Nobel Laureate Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, who left after 12 years in office. Elections will also be held to select members of Liberia's house of representatives.

There are 26 candidates in the running to replace Sirleaf -- including Vice President Joseph Boakai of the ruling Unity Party and former soccer star George Weah of the Coalition for Democratic Change opposition party.

The U.S. embassy in Liberia issued a statement Tuesday noting that election observers from various governmental organizations, non-profit organizations and international bodies would monitor the vote -- including representatives from the European Union, the United States and National Democratic Institute.

"We appeal to all Liberians to remain peaceful and respect the democratic process," the American embassy said. "While this is a time to engage in vigorous debate, exchanges should be civil, and take place in an atmosphere of tolerance and respect."

Tuesday's election will be the first time in 70 years that Liberia's presidential power will be peacefully transferred from one administration to the next.

"Liberians -- this is your moment," the U.S. embassy said. "Let integrity and respect for one another, the rule of law, and your country guide citizens, candidates, and leaders of your core institutions."

More than 2 million people are eligible to vote.

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