Liberians vote to choose new leader in presidential run-off

Football great George Weah has reportedly been elected the new President of Liberia after nationwide polls on Boxing Day.

They are selecting a victor between former football star George Weah and veteran Deputy President Joseph Boakai to succeed Africa's first elected woman President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf who's constitutional mandate has run out.

Johnson Sirleaf, Africa's first elected female leader, is set to step down after serving 12 years.

Sirleaf guided the nation out of ruin following back-to-back 1989-2003 civil wars and through the horrors of the 2014-16 Ebola crisis but is accused of failing to combat poverty and tackle corruption.

Weah, a former soccer star, garnered 38.4 percent of the vote in the first round against Boakai's 28.8 percent.

Either of Mr. Boakai and ex-footballer George Weah will be declared president-elect after the announcement of the results. His failure to secure an outright majority forced a run-off.

The ex-footballer, who played for AC Milan, Manchester City, Chelsea and Paris Saint-Germain during his career, leads the presidential run-off with 61.5% of the vote with 98.1% of ballots counted, the commission said.

He entered politics after his retirement in 2002 and is now a senator in Liberia's parliament.

But Mr Weah's election is not without controversy, as his running mate is Jewel Taylor, former wife of the warlord and ex-President Charles Taylor, who is serving a jail sentence in the United Kingdom for war crimes.

Liberia, founded by freed United States slaves in the 19th Century, has not had a smooth transfer of power from one elected president to another since 1944.

Turnout was "nowhere near that of the first round held in October", our correspondent said, attributing the low numbers to a seven-week delay in holding the runoff. "Many voters are eager for change and therefore less likely to cast their ballots for the incumbent party".

Taylor is serving his 50-year prison sentence in the United Kingdom for war crimes related to the conflict in neighbouring Sierra Leone.