"As a longstanding friend, the United States applauds the people of Liberia for exercising their democratic right to vote in the historic presidential and legislative elections", said a statement from US State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert.
Liberia's health system was decimated by Ebola, a challenge for Nobel Prize-winning President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, who also led Liberia's transition from a 14-year civil war. The Secretary-General commends the efforts of the National Elections Commission and security institutions for this important milestone in the history of Liberia. It apologized for delays in some areas and said it had quarantined materials from one precinct and will investigate reports of alleged compromised voting.
Among the front-runners are Vice President Joseph Boaka and former global soccer star George Weah. A presidential candidate must win more than 50 percent of the vote to avoid a second round. Final results should be known within two weeks. Worldwide observers say Tuesday's vote went smoothly despite late starts in some counties.
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Should there be a runoff, the victor is slated to be announced on November 8. More than 2.1 million voters had registered to vote at almost 5 400 polling stations throughout Liberia, which was established by the United States in the 19th Century for freed black slaves.
Sirleaf will step aside after two six-year terms in office. The Nobel Peace Prize victor was Africa's first female president and helped the country rebuild from years of civil war and the devastating Ebola crisis.
The election turnout was impressive, especially among younger generations, said Christopher Fomunyoh of the USA -funded National Democratic Institute, which was monitoring the elections. "All of these people are saying they want change and improvement, and that explains why nearly all of the candidates are presenting themselves as candidates for change".
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