George Weah set to win Liberian Presidential polls

George Weah

MONROVIA. – Former soccer star George Weah’s camp said yesterday he was set to win Liberia’s presidential election run-off against Vice President Joseph Boakai in the country’s first democratic transfer of power in more than seven decades.

Weah’s deputy campaign manager for operations, Morluba Morlu, said his prediction was based on precinct-level vote tallies he said were trickling in from across the country after Tuesday’s vote.

Liberian election officials began counting the votes from Liberia’s 15 counties on yesterday and planned to announce preliminary results in the afternoon, with final results due on Thursday. But unofficial partial results announced on local radio stations all showed the favourite Weah in the lead, and Morlu said he expected his candidate to win with about 70 percent of the vote.

“It is clear. We are only waiting for the (election commission) to announce the results and declare him president,” Morlu said. “We are calling on . . . Boakai to concede defeat and congratulate George Weah.”

Officials from Boakai’s ruling Unity Party were not immediately available for comment but his supporters at party headquarters were circumspect about Boakai’s prospects.

“We are listening to the result that the radio is giving. At least we are satisfied with Lofa County results,” said Jerry Mulbah, referring to Boakai’s home county in northern Liberia, where unofficial results showed him in the lead.

Liberia, Africa’s oldest modern republic, was founded by freed US slaves in 1847, but its last democratic transfer of power occurred in 1944. Weah and Boakai are vying to succeed outgoing President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, whose 12-year rule cemented peace in the West African country after civil war ended in 2003.

Many Liberians have criticised Johnson Sirleaf for not doing enough to root out endemic poverty and corruption and are eager for fresh leadership. Weah, who was named world footballer of the year in 1995, was runner-up to Johnson Sirleaf in the 2005 election and has positioned himself an outsider who will deliver tangible benefits to the country’s young population.

Turnout on Tuesday appeared much lower than the first round in October but people in the capital Monrovia expressed relief that the vote had gone smoothly, after several candidates said the first round was marred by fraud.

The Supreme Court ultimately dismissed a legal challenge brought by the third-place finisher and backed by Boakai but the proceedings delayed the second round by more than a month.

“It’s free and fair and transparent,” said Kamhdiggs Kemah (48) of Tuesday’s vote. We saw the whole process, so I am very happy with it. And I know my next leader will be George Weah.”

Yesterday, a number of reputable websites and social media platforms reported that Weah had won the election. The Herald’s online site had the following story: Fifa’s former World Football Player of the Year George Weah has been voted president of Liberia after clinching 12 of the 15 counties in the west African country.

Weah has taken to Twitter to thank all his supporters, saying that he plans to liberate the country: “It is with deep emotion that I want to thank you, the Liberian people, for honouring me with your vote today. It is a great hope,” he said through his Twitter handle @GeorgeWeahOff .

The former AC Milan striker becomes the 25th president of Liberia. His opponent, 73-year-old Joseph Boakai – who has been the country’s vice president for the last 12 years, got only two counties to vote for The former AC Milan striker becomes the 25th president of the country.

South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma reportedly congratulated Weah on his victory in the Liberian presidential run-off held on December 26 this year. In a statement issued yesterday, President Zuma praised the country for conducting the presidential run-off in a peaceful manner, saying that it signified another positive step towards deepening democracy in Africa.

Weah, succeeds 79-year-old Nobel Peace Prize winner, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf who was the first African woman to be elected head of state and government and commander-in-chief of the defence forces. – Reuters