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Liberia votes as soccer star, vice president vie to succeed Sirleaf

MONROVIA, Liberia — Young Liberians went straight from all-night Christmas celebrations to the polls Tuesday for a runoff election between a former international soccer star and the country’s vice president, who are vying to replace Africa’s first female head of state.

For the first time in more than 70 years, the West African nation founded by freed American slaves will see one democratically elected government hand power over to another.

Nearly 2.2 million voters have the choice between 51-year-old former soccer star and senator George Weah and 73-year-old Joseph Boakai, who has been vice president for 12 years.

Nobel Peace Prize recipient Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, 79, is stepping down after two terms in office that brought the impoverished country out of back-to-back civil wars and saw it grapple with an Ebola outbreak.


The runoff had been contested twice in court amid claims of irregularities, with its original Nov. 7 date delayed.

The first-round Oct. 10 election brought high numbers of voters, and officials hoped Tuesday’s vote would be no different. The National Elections Commission has said voter lists have been cleaned up according to Supreme Court orders. They had been posted at all 5,390 voting places.