Liberians head to polls to replace first African female president

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The process is under the watchful eye of party political representatives.

President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the continent's first female president, is stepping down after serving two six-year terms in office - the constitutionally mandated limit. Parliamentary elections are also being held at the same time.

Johnson - a warlord-turned-evangelical preacher - is the most notorious name among 2017's 20 candidates.

In the determination to build trust in Liberians about their government and its leaders' resolve to reconstruct the country, Boakai and Nuquay joined Sirleaf to enact "The Freedom of Information Bill".

It said, as a longstanding friend and partner, it encourages all Liberians to vote and participate in the democratic process-before, on, and after election day-to shape Liberia's future. Despite doubts from members of Unity Party's hierarchy about the president's support for Boakai, she has continued to give her assurance of her support.

Before signing off her last speech before the African Union as its commission's chairperson in January, Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma called Liberian president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf to the podium to hand over a token of appreciation. "She's stepping down at the end of her term", Cooper says.

Johnson Sirleaf urged Liberians to maintain the peace in an address to the nation on the eve of the vote. "I gave her a plus in that", said Timothy Sambulah, a taxi driver in the capital Monrovia. "As women we want to see this country improve for us, but first we want peace".

Voting is wrapping up in Liberia, where a runoff election already is expected because of the high number of presidential candidates.

Corruption remains a major problem - the country ranks 90 out of 176 countries in the 2016 corruption perception index by Transparency International.

Liberia has enjoyed a remarkable recovery since the war, with a leap in GDP to $2.1 billion last year up from just $550 million the year Sirleaf Johnson took office. A statement from the senate said, "Punishment provided in the original rape law appears to be excessive". The leaders of the ruling Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola, (MPLA), were mindful of the tragic record of Jonas Savimbi, leader of opposition UNITA, dragging the country into a civil war which ravaged the country from 1992 to 2002. "Serious incidents were mostly referred to the police who were reported to be acting in 73 percent of cases referred to them", the organization notes. In 2012, the special criminal court for gender-based violence cases dismissed 93 percent of cases.

There have, however, been some gains since 2005.

The Women Situation, founded 2011 in Liberia, is a women's peace building mechanism to mitigate conflict before, during and after elections in Africa.

Sallay Kamara, who at 15 is still too young to vote by three years, joined women of all ages at Monday's peace gathering. "It made recommendations, but there has been little follow up", Vines said.

"If that's a wrong priority in the views of some, I accept their view, I respect their view", Pres. Sirleaf said in an interview with the Cyrus/Pat Fame Show on the eve of the campaign launch in September. "Maybe I'll go into politics, maybe I'll become a medical doctor".

For the girls here, just having a woman as president has inspired them.

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