Vote counting was under way in Liberia Wednesday the day after a presidential run-off between football legend George Weah and ex-vice president Joseph Boakai.
The ballot passed off peacefully, with more than 2.4 million voters called to choose between incumbent Weah, 57, who is seeking a second term, and 78-year-old Boakai.
Observers expect the result to be tight after the two candidates came roughly neck and neck in the first-round vote last month.
Weah led his old rival by 7,126 votes on October 10. But in 2017’s presidential race, he easily beat Boakai in the second round, taking more than 61 percent.
The electoral commission has 15 days from the polls to publish the results but could do so sooner.
The elections are the first since the United Nations in 2018 ended its peacekeeping mission, created after more than 250,000 people died in two civil wars in Liberia between 1989 and 2003.
Both national and foreign observers followed the balloting and only a few minor incidents have so far been reported.
“From our observation, the process went well,” Head of the Election Coordinating Committee, a civil society group, Oscar Bloh, told AFP.
“Overall the process was peaceful, there was no major incident that we observed, though we didn’t cover all the polling centres.”
The Economic Community of West African States which sent observers, welcomed “the generally peaceful conduct of the elections so far”.
The West bloc in its statement however voiced “deep concern over provocative statements and alleged planned conferences by political actors to prematurely declare victory”.
It also warned “individuals or groups that they would be held solely accountable for any acts that may lead to violence and undermine the hard-earned peace and stability of Liberia”.
Clashes during election campaigning left several dead and had raised fears of post-election violence.
Weah — the only African to win football’s most prestigious individual award, the Ballon d’Or — is popular among young people but must defend his record in office, while Boakai is an old hand who has worked in both the public and private sectors.