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Liberia waits to hear 1st results of runoff election

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Liberia waits to hear 1st results of runoff election

The Associated Press
People wait to cast their votes during a Presidential runoff election in Monrovia, Liberia, Tuesday Dec. 26, 2017, Young Liberians went straight from all-night Christmas celebrations to the polls Tuesday for a runoff election between a former international soccer star and the vice president to replace Africa's first female head of state. (AP Photo/Abbas Dulleh)

Liberia's National Elections Commission was expected to begin releasing provisional results Wednesday from the West African nation's presidential runoff.

State radio correspondents reported unofficial results overnight indicating that former international soccer star George Weah led in several counties, but election authorities warned the two parties to "stop making premature pronouncements."

This is the first time in more than 70 years the nation founded by freed American slaves will see one democratically elected government hand power to another. Results will be announced progressively, though the elections commission has two weeks to give final results.

Nearly 2.2 million voters were choosing between the 51-year-old Weah and 73-year-old Vice President Joseph Boakai. The winner will replace Africa's first female head of state, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, who is stepping down after two terms.

Weah led the first round of voting on Oct. 10 but didn't get enough votes to win outright. The runoff was contested twice in court amid claims of irregularities, with its original Nov. 7 date delayed.

Nobel Peace Prize winner Sirleaf, 79, is stepping down after two terms in office that brought the impoverished country out of back-to-back civil wars and saw it grapple with a deadly Ebola outbreak.

As polls closed on Tuesday, election workers said turnout wasn't as high as in October because legislative candidates who helped transport people to polling stations were not participating this time.

Some Liberians said they weren't able to find their names at voting stations and couldn't cast a ballot.

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