Vote counting under way in Liberia a day after electionsWed, 11 Oct 2023 16:37:12 GMT

Vote counting was under way in Liberia on Wednesday, a day after citizens voted on whether to re-elect football legend George Weah, who is running for a second term as president.Liberians enthusiastically turned out in large numbers on Tuesday to choose their president, as well as 73 representatives from the legislature’s lower chamber and 15 senators.Some 2.4 million people were registered to vote. “On behalf of the board of commissioners and staff of the National Elections Commission, as well as the Liberian people, I declare this tally process open,” chairwoman of the National Electoral Commission (NEC), Davidetta Browne-Lansanah, told international observers and journalists at the Samuel Kanyon Doe stadium in the capital Monrovia.No major incidents have been reported. Only heavy rain disrupted voting in the southeast.By Wednesday, the election day excitement had died down in the streets of Monrovia. People returned to work after a public holiday on election day. Many said they were satisfied with the way the election was conducted.”Yesterday’s election was very good, people turned out to vote,” said Robert Kalaplee, 29. “I want to tell the international community to keep their eyes on us, and then they should be looking at the National Elections Commission.”He said Liberians would accept whoever wins the presidential race.”We really appreciate yesterday and we tell God thank you for yesterday — that it was so peaceful,” said 26-year-old Sarlay Slobert.”There was no disruption; everything went on smoothly.”- Results -Browne-Lansanah warned that any results announced by radio stations, on social media or by candidates were “fake news”.She said the official results would only be announced by the NEC.It will begin publicising partial results on Wednesday, with the final results to be announced within 15 days, she said.Twenty candidates contested the presidential race, including incumbent Weah and his main rival, Joseph Boakai, a former vice president from 2006 to 2018.First elected six years ago, 57-year-old Weah, an ex-footballer who became the first and only African to win the game’s most prestigious individual award, the Ballon d’Or, is popular among young people. Others, however, are disappointed with his first term, accusing him of breaking his promises. Living conditions have not improved for many of the West African nation’s poorest, and corruption levels risen.If no candidate obtains an absolute majority, a run-off will be held in early November.The election is the first to be held since the United Nations ended its peacekeeping mission in Liberia in 2018.The mission was created after more than 250,000 people died in two civil wars between 1989 and 2003.Clashes between the ruling party and opponents during the campaign left several dead and raised fears of post-election violence.The European Union, African Union, Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and United States have deployed election observers to Liberia.It comes as democracy in West Africa is being called into question by a series of recent coups.