Liberians are choosing a new president in a run-off vote between Vice-President Joseph Boakai and former international footballer George Weah.

The 51 year old Weah won the first round but did not secure the required 50 percent of the vote for an outright victory.

Legal challenges delayed the vote to replace Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Africa’s first elected female president.

Liberia, which was founded by freed US slaves in the 19th Century, has not had a smooth transfer of power in 73 years.

More than two million people are eligible to cast their ballots in the nation of 4.6 million people.

Polls will close this evening.

Reports say Mr Boakai who is now 73, has been Liberia’s vice-president for 12 years but does not seem to enjoy the support of his boss.

Mr Weah, the former world footballer of the year, is hoping that it will be third time lucky.

The former AC Milan and Paris Saint-Germain player defeated Ms Johnson-Sirleaf in the first round in 2005 but lost to her in the subsequent run-off.

In the following election’s run-off, in 2011, when he ran as a running mate to the opposition candidate, his coalition boycotted the vote, citing irregularities.

A representative for the opposition Liberty Party, Charles Brumskine, who came third in October’s first round, challenged the result, saying it had been marred by “massive fraud and irregularities”.

Earlier this month the Supreme Court ruled that evidence of fraud was insufficient to merit a re-run of the opening round.

The verdict meant that the run-off – initially set for 7 November could go ahead.

This will be the first time for many generations that Liberians witness a transfer of power from one elected leader to another.

Outgoing President Sirleaf has praised a violence-free electoral process, saying that “the ballot box has replaced bullets and electoral disputes are settled through the courts”.

Ms Sirleaf took office in 2006, after her predecessor, Charles Taylor, was forced out by rebels in 2003, ending a long civil war.

Taylor is currently serving a 50-year prison sentence in the UK for war crimes related to the conflict in neighbouring Sierra Leone.

Former Nigerian president, Goodluck Jonathan, who is monitoring the election said he is certain it would be free and fair. 

The results of the run-off will be announced within four days.

-BBC