The West African country of Liberia, ravaged after a 14-year civil war, is holding nationwide elections today for a new president and new members of parliament. “There are 22 candidates standing for president, including ex-football star George Weah and former United Nations official Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf.”
Some people have waited more than five or six hours to cast ballots, which caused poll officials to extend voting until midnight. High voter turnout has caused many to turn back and return once lines shorten.
They said the process of voting itself took a long time, as each voter has to mark three ballot papers. Voter education efforts as people reach the polling stations are also said to be slowing the process down.
If no one secures a 50% of the presidential vote, another election will be held between the top two candidates.
“Much of the credit for the peaceful campaigning ahead of Tuesday’s poll goes to the UN, which has a big peacekeeping force in Liberia.”
It was only two years ago that the United Nations helped broker a peace deal between the Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy (LURD), Movement for Democracy in Liberia and Charles Taylor’s government. As part of the deal, Taylor agreed to step down as President in August 2003 and these current elections will mark the end of the transition with the new president and legistative members taking over for the interim government.
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