Liberians lined up in the pouring rain outside polling stations Tuesday to vote as incumbent president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf sought a second term only days after jointly winning the Nobel Peace Prize.
United Nations peacekeepers and police deployed in numbers around polling stations in the capital Monrovia and elsewhere as hundreds queued up, most clutching umbrellas, to vote in presidential, senatorial and legislative elections.
Around 1.8 million people are eligible to vote in only the second election since the end of a 14-year civil war and seen as a litmus test of the west African nation's fragile democracy.
African Union observer mission chief Speciosa Wangira-Kazibwe — a former Ugandan vice-president — said voting was proceeding “very well” despite a thunderous downpour after hours of light rain.
“The whole world has their eyes on Liberia and the number of observers that are here, it is really phenomenal,” she told AFP outside a polling station.
She said the turnout “puts a big challenge on the leaders that are being elected today. When you look in the eyes of these Liberians they are saying we are giving you our vote, and you will lead us to prosperity”.
National Elections Commission spokesman Bobby Livingstone said there were no reports of delays or incidents after voting opened at 8:00 a.m. (8.00 a.m. GMT).
John Plato, 60, was among the first to vote at the GW Gilbson High School in Monrovia, after waiting for four hours in a line that stretched to 800 people.