Liberia: Liberians Vote Tuesday for Sirleaf’s Successor

FILE - Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf (seated R) and Liberian Vice President Joseph N. Boakai (L) attend Sirleaf's second presidential inauguration at the Capitol in Monrovia, Jan. 16, 2012.
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MONROVIA — Liberia heads to the polls Tuesday to choose a successor for President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, who is stepping down at the end of her second term.

Twenty candidates are vying to replace her, including her own vice president and a former soccer star who has run against Sirleaf twice before.

At party headquarters, supporter Rosa Labah is clear about what she believes the country needs after President Sirleaf’s term is over.

“We need somebody who’d be able to take where she took it from… and continue,” she said.

Sirleaf’s longtime vice president has a solid reputation: reserved, modest and he’s never been accused of corruption.

But not everyone is sold on a Boakai presidency.

“I would like to see continuity, but in a different sense. This party has served us for twelve years so it’s time for change now,” said Pastor Ebrahim W.K. Koh.

Change. The word zooms around opposition candidate George Weah’s enormous campaign headquarters. Weah has run for president before. The international soccer legend and senator from Montserrado is hoping to make it third time lucky.

Cecilia Mwah sums up the mood. “I’m voting for him because tomorrow! — he’ll do something good for Liberia,” she said.

And what that good is? Well, that’s pretty much the same whoever you talk to.

FILE – Liberia President, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, is photographed after the ECOWAS Heads of State and Government summit in Abuja, Nigeria, Dec. 17, 2016.

Liberia needs to restore its dilapidated public health sector. That shortcoming was badly exposed by the Ebola epidemic that officially ended in Liberia just over a year ago.

Liberia needs quality education, not in evidence today according to many here. And the old refrain: Liberia badly needs roads, especially in the interior, where once again the National Electoral Commission struggled to get ballot materials to all the isolated corners of the country.

The campaigns are over. Candidate Boakai and candidate Weah now await the verdict of the Liberian voter, as do other presidential hopefuls like a veteran lawyer and politician Charles Brumskine or former Coca-Cola executive Alexander Cummings.

Liberian voters have one quiet day to ponder their options as rains once again pummel this country and its capital.

Provisional results could come later this week. Liberia’s National Election Commission has until October 25 to announce the final results.

If no presidential candidate wins a clear majority, a runoff will be held.

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Michael Onas
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