In Summary
  • Among the frontrunners are footballing icon George Weah, incumbent Vice President Joseph Boakai, long time opposition figure Charles Brumskine and former Coca-Cola executive Alexander Cummings.
  • Just over a fifth of the 2.1 million people registered for this election are aged 18 to 22, according to official figures.

MONROVIA

Liberians go to the polls on Tuesday to elect a new president after 12 years under Africa's first elected female leader, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.

Here are five points that have defined the campaign:

  • Sirleaf steps aside

Sirleaf unexpectedly swept the vote in 2005 and was re-elected in 2011, and is widely commended for maintaining peace following horrific back-to-back civil wars (1989-2003) which killed an estimated quarter of a million people.

Sirleaf's legacy matters both for the symbolism of her victory and because her vice president for both terms, Joseph Boakai, is a front-runner this year. He will be judged on his record in her government.

Critics accuse Sirleaf, a Nobel Peace Prize winner, of failing to improve ordinary Liberians' lives and being overly preoccupied with her image abroad in a nation heavily dependent on foreign aid to provide basic services. Boakai is both campaigning on his record and promising an alternative vision.

  • 20 candidates

Beyond Boakai, Liberians have a diverse choice between George Weah, a footballing icon; two prominent businessmen, Alexander Cummings and Benoni Urey; former central bank governor Mills Jones; or veteran opposition figure Charles Brumskine.

There are some familiar faces from Liberia's bloody past: Weah's running mate Jewel Howard-Taylor is the ex-wife of former dictator Charles Taylor, while warlord-turned-evangelical preacher Prince Johnson is running for president for the second time.

There is a glaring lack in just one area: after two terms of a female president just one woman is aiming for the top job — fashion model-turned-humanitarian MacDella Cooper.

  • Security fears

The United Nations handed responsibility for national security back to the Liberian security forces last year after more than a decade of efforts to depoliticise and professionalise the police and army following the civil war period.

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