LIBERIA POLLS: Ex-footballer George Weah in early lead

Voters lined up at a polling center in Grand Bassa County

Liberia's provisional election results are expected Thursday, the election commission said Wednesday, as the West African nation waits to see who will succeed the Nobel Peace Prize victor who led the country's recovery from Ebola and civil war.

Vice President Joseph Boakai of the ruling Unity Party (UP) is one of the contenders along with former worldwide football star George Weah who is heading up the main opposition Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC).

Angry supporters gathered to protest at Liberty Party headquarters, claiming polls in the West African nation opened late and that ballot-tampering occurred in at least one location in the capital, Monrovia.

Weah won with 78% of the vote and defeated Robert Sirleaf, the son of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.

According to NEC, preliminary results, which are expected for today, Thursday, have been delayed by several glitches at some polling stations.

Tuesday's election will mark the first time in 73 years that a democratically-elected president will peacefully hand over power to a successor chosen by Liberian voters. It apologized for delays of vote counting in some areas.

A presidential candidate must win more than 50 percent of the vote to avoid a second round. A runoff election is likely.

Sirleaf will step aside after two six-year terms in office.

Vice-President Joseph Boakai and footballer George Weah are seen as the frontrunners to succeed the Nobel Peace Prize victor Ellen Johnson Sirleaf who led the country's recovery from Ebola and civil war.

"Almost all Liberians that turned out to vote were able to cast their ballots", said Christopher Fomunyoh, senior associate for Africa at the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs. "All of these people are saying they want change and improvement, and that explains why nearly all of the candidates are presenting themselves as candidates for change".

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