Liberia’s election results were delayed on Wednesday by hitches at a number of polling stations, with Vice President Joseph Boakai and footballer George Weah seen as the front runners to succeed Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.
The National Elections Commission (NEC) is expected to announce the first official results from the presidential and legislative elections on Thursday.
If no candidate wins 50 percent of the presidential vote, a run-off between the top two contenders will be held on November 7, an outcome analysts say is a near certainty. Turnout for Liberia’s first democratic transfer of power in seven decades was exceptionally high, the electoral panel has suggested. It admitted that staff at polling stations had in some cases caused long waits for voters and widespread confusion, and many closed as late as 3am, triggering the delay.
Controversy erupted after some voters were directed to the wrong polling place or were made to stand in hot sun followed by heavy rain for hours, leading the NEC to apologise for the conduct of staff who misdirected voters.
“We have already admitted that our queue controllers at various polling places were not at their best,” NEC Chairman Jerome Korkoya told journalists.
“They were supposed to direct voters to the proper line they were assigned. From all indications in many places they didn’t do that and we take responsibility for that,” he admitted.
Staff training would be reformed for the next election, he added. One district in northeastern Nimba will also have a re-run after a failure to open all four polling places.
The nation’s 2.18 million registered voters made their choice from a crowded field of 20 presidential candidates including just one woman and elected 73 parliamentarians for the lower chamber, the House of Representatives.
Longtime opposition figure Charles Brumskine and upstart former Coca-Cola executive Alexander Cummings are deemed to be close on the heels of Weah and Boakai.