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Liberia - 2017 Election

Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, 78, had many accomplishments to boast since she became Africas first modern female head of state. The economy is four times the size it was when she took office in 2005. The gangs of drug addled youths who raped and mutilated their way across the nation during a civil war that ended in 2003 are a vivid but receding memory.

Charles Taylor, the warlord who ruled in Liberias darkest days, is now in a British jail, serving a life sentence for crimes against humanity, including terrorism, pillage, rape, murder and sexual slavery the first former head of state convicted by an international tribunal since Nuremburg.

Yet the country is still one of the worlds poorest. It survived another existential crisis three years ago with an outbreak of the Ebola virus that overwhelmed its health services. Residents complain of corruption from officials and poor public services, and say that while they are thankful for the peace that Johnson Sirleaf brought, they are excited about the prospect of change.

Liberias Vice President Joseph Boakai said November 04, 2015 hes running to succeed President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf in the 2017 presidential election. He said he would run on the Sirleaf governments record, which he said includes 10 years of unbroken peace, infrastructure development and freedom of the press. Boakai brushed off criticisms by some who say the Sirleaf government, in power now for 10 years, has failed to deliver basic infrastructures such as dependable electricity and running water.

A consortium of political parties and civil society groups rallied in March 2016 month to urge an extension of the U.N. peacekeeping mission in Liberia (UNMIL) after its mandate ends in June. The groups said they dont trust the Liberian security during the 2017 election. An official for Liberias main opposition party, the Congress for Democratic Change, told VOA it wants UNMIL's continued presence to safeguard "democratic governance and free and fair elections in 2017."

A dozen political parties in Liberia joined forces to take on the ruling Liberty Party in the 2017 presidential election. Senator Prince Johnson told VOA Daybreak Africa 19 September 2016 that We want continue our peace that we celebrated some time ago. We do not want to see violence. So we all met to discuss the issue how to collaborate and move our country forward. The Constitution bars President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf from seeking a third term, but her vice president Joseph Boakai was expected to run.

The Congress for Democratic Change, the National Patriotic Party and the Liberia People Democratic Party signed an agreement in November 2016 to work together for the 2017 election. According to an agreement, the Congress for Democratic Change, is supposed to produce the standard bearer and the standard bearer will have to pick his vice vice president standard bearer who will not come from the Congress for Democratic Change.

Liberia's President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf urged peaceful elections as candidates begin campaigning to replace the Nobel Peace Prize winner who has led the West African country through the Ebola crisis and recovery from civil war.

Twenty candidates are standing to replace Johnson Sirleaf in a first round on Tuesday. With nobody likely to win a majority outright, the top two are expected to face each other in a run-off in around a month. While the election campaign has been rambunctious, it has been mainly peaceful so far, and most expectations are that it will come off without bloodshed.

Among those running in the 10 October 2017 election are her vice president and two of the men she faced during Liberia's last vote in 2011. Among the top candidates is her vice president, 72-year-old Joseph Nyumah Boakai, who has been endorsed by Sirleaf and appears to be profiting from a divided opposition.

Former soccer star George Weah, a current senator who ran as vice president on the 2011 ticket that lost to Sirleaf, also is mounting a bid. It is his second attempt at the presidency after losing in 2005. His running mate is Jewel Taylor, a fellow senator and the ex-wife of former President Charles Taylor. The former Liberian leader was convicted of crimes against humanity for his role in the violence in neighboring Sierra Leone.

Another repeat candidate is Prince Johnson, a one-time rebel leader who has long been involved in politics. Human rights activist MacDella Cooper is the lone female presidential candidate. She has said that as president she would reduce her salary to $1 a year.

One of Liberia's largest political parties called for a halt to counting votes from the country's presidential election 12 October 2017, alleging irregularities and fraud as ex-soccer star George Weah took an early lead based on partial provisional results. Angry Liberty Party supporters who gathered at the party's headquarters claimed polls in the West African nation opened late and that ballot-tampering occurred in at least one location in the capital, Monrovia. Provisional results released by the National Election Commission showed Weah ahead in 14 of Liberia's 15 counties. Vice President Joseph Boakai led in his home county, Lofa.

With 20 candidates in the race, observers expected the vote to go to a runoff election. A presidential candidate must win more than 50 percent of the vote to avoid a second round.

Former footballer George Weah came in first in the October 10th elections, winning 38.4 percent of the vote less than the simple majority needed to win outright. A runoff election was then scheduled between soccer star-turned-senator George Weah and Vice President Joseph Boakai, who won 28.8 percent of the vote.

Liberia's ruling party challenged the results of the first round of presidential elections in which its candidate was the runner-up. The Unity Party accused incumbent President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, one of its own members, of "interfering" with the results of the October 10 election, saying she acted inappropriately by meeting privately election magistrates before the vote. Liberia's Supreme Court ordered on 01 November 2017 a temporary halt to preparations the presidential run-off scheduled for November 7, as it geared up to decide if there were "irregularities" in the first round of voting.

Liberias Supreme Court on 06 November 2017 delayed the countrys presidential run-off election, less than 24 hours before the polls were scheduled to open. No new date can be set until the electoral commission addresses a challenge to the first round results. The court ruled that the National Electoral Commission (NEC) cannot hold a run-off until it resolves a complaint alleging fraud and irregularities in the first round of polling on October 10. The NEC had 30 days to resolve the case. Only when that was complete, would Liberia know when it will elect its next president.

On 7 December, the Supreme Court dismissed allegations of fraud and irregularities, ordering that the run-off vote go ahead. However, it ruled that anomalies with the voter register be corrected through the removal of multiple entries. By 11 December 2017 Liberias election commission had yet to make an announcement for the date of the second round run-off vote, four days after a Supreme Court ruling dismissed irregularities that could have forced a re-run. The electoral body is expected to announce a new date for the run-off and outline measures for a technical clean-up of the countrys voter register.

Liberia will hold a delayed presidential run-off vote on 26 December 2017, according to the electoral commission. Former soccer star George Weah faces Vice-President Joseph Boakai in the poll that was held up for several weeks by a court challenge by the candidate who came third in round one. The winner replaces Ellen Johnson Sirleaf as president in what will be Liberias first peaceful handover of power in 70 years. The vote came after the Supreme Court ruling to end weeks of political wrangling over fraud allegations. The Supreme Court had halted election preparations while it examined a complaint by the candidate of Liberty Party, Charles Brumskine, who placed third in the first round. Both the Weah and Boakai camps have formed coalitions with other candidates who missed out of the runoff election an indication that reconciliation among the political class had quickly taken shape.

Former soccer star George Weah was declared the winner of Liberia's presidential election. The country's electoral commission said 28 December 2017 that Weah won 61.5 percent of the total vote and won 14 out of Liberia's 15 counties. Weah ran against Vice President Joseph Boakai to replace President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, who is stepping down after two terms, the maximum allowed under Liberia's constitution. The election commission said voter turnout was 56 percent - lower than the October 10 election in which Boakai and Weah were the top vote-getters, qualifying them for the runoff election.

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