Liberians vote in tight presidential run-off / Photo: Reuters

Polling closed on Tuesday evening in Liberia's presidential run-off election, in which voters were choosing whether to hand former football star George Weah a second term in office, despite a mixed record, or elect political veteran Joseph Boakai.

The run-off, which followed a first round of voting on October 10, was expected to be close between the two rivals, who also faced off in 2017.

At a polling station in a women and children's centre in the coastal county of Margibi, voting ended shortly after 6:00 pm (1800 GMT). Ballot counting began several minutes later.

"The process is over now, but from what I saw the process was overall peaceful -- just that we had one or two minor incidents of tension but they were brought under control", said Felelia Kammoh, 48, an observer there for the Unity Party.

Peaceful voting

The electoral commission has 15 days to publish the results. More than 2.4 million people are registered to vote.

Weah and Boakai both cast their ballots earlier on Tuesday, with the incumbent expressing his confidence that he would be re-elected and his opponent suggesting the ruling party has taken "short cuts" to manipulate the vote.

Turnout appeared lower than in the first round, with shorter queues outside polling centres around Monrovia. There were no reports of major incidents or violence.

The head of the ECOWAS Election Observation Mission to Liberia, Attahiru Jega, praised the "calm and order prevailing in the various voting centres visited" around Monrovia, the regional bloc's commission said in a statement.

'Slightly lower turn-out'

"He stressed the need for a climate of peace, tolerance and consensus around the electoral process until its completion," the statement added.

The peaceful election was also commended by former vice president of Zambia Nevers Mumba, who now leads the Electoral Institute for Sustainable Democracy In Africa.

He said turnout appeared to be roughly two-thirds of the record 78.86 % of the first round, when the presidential vote was coupled with parliamentary elections.

Last month, Weah, 57, and Boakai, 78, came out virtually neck-and-neck on more than 43% of votes cast, with the incumbent 7,126-votes ahead overall.

The elections are the first since the UN in 2018 ended its peacekeeping mission, created after more than 250,000 people died in two civil wars between 1989 and 2003.