With the ballot counting now underway, Liberians in the capital Monrovia give their opinions a day after the presidential and legislative elections. “There were no interceptions, no disruptions, everything went smoothly,” says Sarlay T. Slobert.
“We really appreciate yesterday and we tell God thank you for yesterday that it was so peaceful. There was no interception, no disruption, everything went on smoothly” added****Slobert.
More than 2.4 million people were registered to vote in the West African nation, choosing their 73 representatives and 15 senators in addition to the president.
The elections is seeing President George Weah vie a second term in the polls that will once again test his popularity after a campaign dominated by economic crisis and corruption allegations. Former vice president Joseph Boakai, 78, who lost to Weah in 2017, is seen as the main opposition.
“The turnout was very huge. As early as 10’o clock in the morning, the place was already overcrowded. The people really came out. They wanted to express themselves through the ballot” says Stephen G. Fellajuah.
Even before polling stations opened in the morning, hundreds of people had gathered in the early morning sunshine waiting to vote in Monrovia.
“I vote for the good of my country. I expect peace and development,” said Agostina Momo, 18, who was voting for the first time.
“I am confident because I have worked a lot and people have confidence in me”, Weah told AFP after casting his ballot in the Monrovia suburb of Paynesville.
“I hope to win in the first round.”
The main political parties had pledged that the presidential and legislative elections in the country of about five million will pass off peacefully.
“I want to tell the international community that they should keep their eyes on us and then they should be looking at the National Elections Commission” says**Robert Kalaplee.**
**”**They shouldn’t panic, and you know they should be focused and give the election the result. Anybody wins, we will accept it and they will be our president”
The election is the first to be held since the United Nations ended its peacekeeping mission in Liberia in 2018.
Weah, 57, entered politics after a career as an international footballer which saw him become the first and only African to win football’s most prestigious individual award, the Ballon d’Or, in 1995.
On his election in 2017, he promised to create jobs and invest in education, but critics say he has failed to keep his pledges.
As president, Weah has not set up a war crimes tribunal despite international and domestic demand.
He is the favourite against 19 rivals for the presidency but could face a second-round runoff in early November unless a candidate secures an unlikely absolute majority in the first round.
Liberia’s election commission has said the first results would be announced later on Wednesday while final results are expected within 15 days.