Voting smooth as Liberians choose president

Tue Oct 11, 2011 4:50pm GMT

Speciosa Wandira Kazibwe of the African Union observer delegation said: "From what I see there is no worry. If the leaders take the results there will be no chance for violence."

Eight years into peace, Liberia has seen growing investment in its iron and gold mines and has convinced donors to waive most of its debt, though many residents complain of a lack of basic services, high food prices, rampant crime and corruption.

"Ellen done nothing, I seen nothing," said Anthony, an 18-year-old resident of West Point, a Monrovia slum where raw sewage trickles between a crush of makeshift brick and tin dwellings, home to many of the civil war's ex-child soldiers.

Unemployment remains high, war-wounded beg on the streets and average income stands at $300 a year -- below the $1-a-day benchmark for extreme poverty.

Johnson-Sirleaf initially ruled out a second term, but has since said she needs one given the huge challenge. Her jocular campaign slogan -- "Monkey Still Working, Baboon Wait Small" -- urges Liberians to have a bit more patience.


Campaigning for the election has been mostly calm, though scuffles erupted between rival supporters in Monrovia during final rallies at the weekend.

The election will be Liberia's first locally organised presidential poll since the end of the 1989-2003 conflict that killed nearly a quarter of a million people. Johnson-Sirleaf became Africa's first freely elected female head of state in the 2005 election that was organized by the United Nations.

Tubman, whose running mate is ex-soccer star George Weah, is expected to give Johnson-Sirleaf her toughest challenge.   Continued...

People wait to vote during the presidential election at a polling station in Liberia, October 11, 2011. REUTERS/Luc Gnago
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