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Liberia votes to replace Africa's 1st female leader

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11th-Oct-2017       
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AP, Monrovia :
Liberians gathered in masses under the bright sun Tuesday to vote in an election that for the first time in more than 70 years will see one democratically elected government hand power to another.
As Africa's first female president prepares to step aside, many called for peaceful and fair elections. There are fears that if the results aren't accepted the tensions and violence of Liberia's past could rise again.
Liberia's health system was decimated by the Ebola outbreak that killed nearly 5,000 Liberians in 2014-2015 and posed the biggest challenge for Nobel Prize-winning President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. She has led Libera's transition from a 14-year civil war that ended in 2003 after killing more than 250,000 people. Many residents are calling for a president who delivers on promises to improve the economy, increase employment and improve access to electricity.
More than 2.1 million voters have registered to vote at nearly 5,400 polling stations throughout Liberia.
Twenty presidential candidates are vying for a majority in the first round of elections on Tuesday, while nearly 1,000 candidates from 26 political parties fight for 73 seats in the House of Representatives.
Given the high number of presidential candidates, it is unlikely anyone will win more than 50 percent of the vote, taking the elections to a second round, likely in November.
The frontrunner, 72-year-old vice president Joseph Boakai for the Unity Party says he hasn't yet been able to fully utilize his capabilities.
"You don't take a race car and park it in the garage. Put it on the road," he said during the campaign period.
His main contender is 51-year-old former international soccer star, George Weah. His running mate is Jewel Howard-Taylor, the ex-wife of former President Charles Taylor, who is jailed for war crimes.
Weah ran against Ellen Johnson Sirleaf in 2005, winning in the first round but losing to her in the second.
"The day I become president of this country, people will see what I can do," the FIFA's 1995 Player of the Year told The Associated Press.

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