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Liberia's presidential elections kick off

Xinhua | Updated: 2011-10-11 17:05

MONROVIA - Liberians on Tuesday went to the polling stations throughout the country to cast their votes for the presidential and legislative elections.

Polling stations opened at 8 am local time and will stay open until 6 pm local time.

Liberia's last presidential election, held in November 2005 following the country's protracted civil war, saw Ellen Johnson- Sirleaf as Africa's first elected female president.

There are 1.7 million registered voters for the presidential and legislative elections. Fifteen senatorial seats are being contested for while 73 seats in the House of Representatives are being contested.

Of the 16 candidates vying for the presidency, only two, the ruling Unity Party of President Johnson-Sirleaf and the opposition Congress for Democratic Change (CDC) of George Weah, have merged as clear front runners.    

Achievements of Johnson-Sirleaf has made during her term include the sustenance of peace and stability, social and economic developments in the country, as well as international debt forgiveness for the nation.

Women's increased participation in partisan politics has also been identified by some analysts as a high point of her tenure.

President Johnson-Sirleaf last Friday got a boost to her campaign, when the Swedish Academy named her as a joint winner of this year's Nobel Prize for Peace.

She won the prize jointly with a fellow countrywoman and civil rights activist - Lehma Gbowee and Yemen's Tawakkul Karman, another rights activist.

The Nobel Prize, no doubt, added to her string of awards in recent times, in recognition of her contributions to the continued stabilization of the country for development.

Under the election time-table, the announcement of the final results of the presidential elections is fixed for October 26 and possible run-off on November 8.

National Electoral Commission Chairman James Fromayan said ballot papers had been received for the elections since the end of September and have been distributed accordingly.

He said 4,457 polling places, spread across the 1,780 polling precincts in the country would be effectively supplied with the electoral materials by Monday.

President Johnson- Sirleaf has promised to abide by the outcome of the country's presidential and legislative elections.

In a nationwide broadcast on Sunday on Liberian television and radio networks, Johnson-Sirleaf said the electoral commission's decision should be binding on all candidates in order to safeguard the country's democracy.

Land borders of Liberia are closed between Monday and Wednesday for the security of the elections. Security forces are on high alert, with tens of thousands of military, police and navy personnel deployed across the country in anticipation of violence.

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