Voters in the West African nation of Liberia are set to elect a new head of state, as President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf prepares to step down after 12 years in power, an official poll has said on Tuesday.
Report says Tuesday’s polls are expected to mark the first time in 73 years that a democratically elected president is peacefully handing over power to a successor chosen by the people.
Twenty candidates are in the race for president, with 72-year-old Johnson Sirleaf, a Nobel Peace Prize-winner often dubbed the “Iron Lady,” retiring after two six-year terms in office.
The official report said that there are only three contenders who analysts believe have a real chance of winning.
They are Vice President Joseph Boakai of the ruling Unity Party (UP), former international football star George Weah, who leads the main opposition Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) and Charles Brumskine, the head of the Liberty Party (LP).
Boosting the economy, creating jobs and fighting corruption are high on the agenda of all candidates’ campaigns.
The last peaceful transfer of power between two democratically elected presidents took place in Liberia in 1944 when former President Edwin Barclay handed over to William Tubman.
Liberia remains one of the poorest countries in the world and continues to struggle with the aftermath of the 2013-15 Ebola crisis, which killed over 4,000 people nationwide.
As well as a brutal 14-year civil war that ended in 2003 after having claimed over 250,000 lives and displaced about a million people.
The roughly 2.2 million registered voters in the country of 4.1 million are also set to elect 73 members of the House of Representatives on Tuesday.