Peace at the polls as Liberians hope for a new era
VOTERS in war-ravaged Liberia went to the polls yesterday to choose their first post-war president, in a heated contest between the former football star George Weah and the country's top female politician.
With United Nations' helicopters buzzing over the bombed-out capital of the west African nation, many prayed that the vote would herald an era of peace after decades of conflict that displaced a third of the three million people and left up to 200,000 dead.
"We've been killing each other too much. There's going to be a change in Liberia this time around," student Saviour Dixon, 27, said after voting at a bullet-splattered warehouse.
Weah, a one-time world footballer of the year who left school early, and the former finance minister Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, who went to Harvard University, finished first and second in the first round of voting, which weeded out 20 other candidates, including warlords.
Mr Weah's ascent from Monrovia's slums to international stardom has great appeal in a poor country short on heroes. He has no experience in government, but that is seen as a plus by many in a country long ruled by coup leaders and warlords.
Ms Johnson-Sirleaf has a masters degree in public administration from Harvard and has held a range of senior postings in government and the United Nations. However, her role in past, failed governments is seen as a drawback by some.
If successful, she would become Africa's first elected female president.
Across the country, Liberians voted patiently and peacefully.
Mr Weah, escorted by UN troops, was mobbed by reporters as he voted. "My first priority will be peace - bringing people together to sit down at the table and see how better we can move Liberia forward," he said.
They don't even say Ms. Ellen Sirleaf's name in the first paragraph as a candidate.
In fact they don't even address her as her full name until the 4th paragraph.
She deserves the upmost respect.
My fellow Liberians need to elect Ms. Sirleaf as their President so that we don't fall down to a military coup ever again
God Bless My Country.