Liberian Election: Polls Continue as Ex Football Star Weah and Boakai Await Runoff

Liberian Election -Liberia is far from ending her elections, as former football star George Weah and Liberia’s Vice-President Joseph Boakai are headed for a run-off in the presidential polls.

George Weah and Joseph Boakai, will face a runoff on 7 November 2017 in the race to succeed President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. This was announced by the Electoral Commission on Sunday, October 15.

See Also: Liberia Polls: Mahama Heads 71-Member ECOWAS Election Observation Mission

Former international footballer George Weah was set to win the first round of the presidential election after the elections commission said he was leading with 39 percent of votes and less than 5 percent of precincts still to be counted.

However, with tallies in from 95.6 percent of polling stations, Weah took 39.0 percent of the votes and Boakai 29.1 percent; both well short of the 50-percent barrier required to win outright from the first round of voting held on Tuesday.

Weah and Boakai lead the field of 20 candidates who competed to succeed Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Africa’s first female elected president and a winner of the Nobel Peace Prize.

Three other candidates took a significant share of votes, with veteran opposition leader Charles Brumskine at 9.8 percent; former Coca-Cola executive Alexander Cummings at 7.1 percent; and former-warlord-turned-preacher Prince Johnson at 7.0 percent.

See Also: Liberia Polls: Former President Mahama Reports Peaceful Elections

But for the runoff, the other three hopefuls will now decide which runoff contender they will direct their supporters to follow. Considering the impact these votes can make, Weah and his opponent Boakai can only hope it turns in their favor.

Whoever wins the runoff election will replace President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Africa’s first elected female head of state, who is stepping down after a maximum of two-term.

George Weah

George Weah

This is Weah’s second attempt at the presidency after losing to Sirleaf in 2005. The 51-year-old was the first African player to win both FIFA’s World Player of the Year trophy and the Ballon d’Or.

He was largely absent from Liberia during the 1989-2003 civil war period, playing for a string of top-flight European teams including PSG and AC Milan.

For those who do not know, Weah’s running mate is Jewel Howard Taylor, ex-wife of Liberia’s 22nd President Charles Taylor.

Joseph Boakai

The politician who is nicknamed ‘sleepy Joe’ for his habit of falling asleep at public events, has denied the accusation several times on the grounds that he (Boakai) is a dreamer.

Liberian Election: Vice President, Joseph N. Boakai

The argument continues that Vice-President of Liberia Joseph Boakai who has served in governments for more than three decades may end up winning the elections due to his unarguably impressive experience.

However Weah says he has gained experience since becoming a senator in 2014, and after losing to Sirleaf again, this time as a vice-presidential candidate on the ticket of Winston Tubman, in 2011.

Liberian Election 2017: Peaceful Transfer

This year’s election cum handover would represent Liberia’s first peaceful transfer of power in more than seven decades.  Liberia, which was founded by freed US slaves in the 19th Century, has not had a smooth transfer of power in 73 years.

President Sirleaf took office in 2006, after her predecessor, Charles Taylor, was forced out of office 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 Sierra Leone.