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Liberians Await Vote Tally in Presidential Election


FILE - People walk past the headquarters of Liberia's National Elections Commission (NEC) in the Sinkor neighborhood of Monrovia, Liberia Nov. 6, 2017.

Liberians waited Wednesday to find out who would be their next president as officials continued to tally votes from the West African nation's runoff election.

Former soccer star George Weah and Vice President Joseph Boakai were vying to replace President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, who is stepping down after two terms, the maximum allowed under Liberia's constitution.

The National Electoral Commission said on Facebook that the results would most likely be announced Thursday.

Poll workers said turnout appeared to be lower than it was in the October 10 election, in which Boakai and Weah were the top vote-getters, qualifying them for the runoff.

Observers said polling stations were better organized than they were during the October vote, and there were few reports of problems. The National Elections Commission said a woman who tried to vote twice was caught and arrested.

Weah and Boakai built their campaigns around job creation, education and infrastructure plans.

Critics of Boakai, 73, accused him of doing little as Johnson Sirleaf's vice president. Critics of Weah, 51, said he had almost no real political or governing experience.

Weah's running mate is Senator Jewel Howard-Taylor, the ex-wife of Charles Taylor, the former rebel leader and president who sparked Liberia's civil war in 1989 and is serving a 50-year prison sentence in Britain for his role in atrocities in Sierra Leone.

Taylor still has supporters in Liberia, and his ex-wife was credited with helping Weah win key counties in the first round of voting.

Pollsters said ahead of Tuesday's election that the race was too close to call.

If all goes smoothly, Liberia will see its first peaceful and democratic transfer of power in more than 70 years.