Liberia | Football Star, ex-warlord among hopefuls for president

Disappointed by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s failure to deliver on her pledge to make education free for all, Kumba Tamba is pinning her hopes on the almighty as Liberia votes for a new leader.

The West African nation, founded for freed American slaves almost 200 years ago, is holding presidential and legislative elections today that mark the end of the 12-year tenure of Johnson Sirleaf, who’s known as Ma Ellen and whose 2005 victory made her Africa’s first elected female president. Among the contenders to succeed her are the current vice president, Joseph Boakai, ex-A.C. Milan football  star George Weah and Prince Yormie Johnson, a former warlord during the nation’s 14-year civil war.

“I’m praying to God to help us elect a good president so that this country becomes sweet like before,” Tamba, a 34-year-old mother of four said as she sat in front of her rickety house in the West Point slum in Liberia’s capital, Monrovia. “I voted for Ma Ellen in 2005 and 2011, hoping that we will get free education and low food prices. But that didn’t happen.”

With 20 hopefuls in the first round, the vote will probably go to a run-off in November. As many as 986 candidates are vying for 73 seats in the House of Representatives. Johnson Sirleaf is due to step down next year. Bloomberg

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