High-Stakes Presidential Runoff in Liberia
Election officials in Liberia have confirmed a runoff election scheduled for November 14, setting the stage for a compelling political contest. Incumbent President George Weah will compete against challenger Joseph Boakai, marking a significant moment in the country’s democratic history.
Tight Contest After the First Round
The National Elections Commission of Liberia announced the results of the first round, indicating that this will be one of Liberia’s most closely contested runoff elections since the conclusion of the nation’s devastating civil conflicts. Weah, a former international soccer sensation, garnered 43.83% of the vote, falling short of an absolute majority. Boakai led with 43.44%, highlighting the fierce competition amid a crowded field of candidates.
Revisiting the 2017 Showdown
The upcoming runoff rekindles a political showdown between Weah and Boakai, reminiscent of the 2017 election. Weah secured victory in that election with 60% of the vote in the second round, marking the first peaceful transfer of power in Liberia following a series of civil conflicts that claimed the lives of approximately 250,000 people between 1989 and 2003.
Promises and challenges
During his 2017 campaign, Weah pledged to tackle poverty and stimulate infrastructure development, envisioning Liberia’s transformation from a low-income to a middle-income country. However, criticism has arisen, with some claiming that Weah has fallen short on key campaign promises and failed to deliver justice for civil war victims.
Joseph Boakai, who previously served as vice president under Africa’s first democratically elected female leader, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, is campaigning to steer Liberia in a different direction from what he terms Weah’s faltering leadership.
Weah’s Soccer Legacy
George Weah remains the only African player to have received the Ballon d’Or. His illustrious 18-year club soccer career included stints with renowned teams like Paris Saint-Germain, AC Milan, Chelsea, and Manchester City. His 23-year-old son, Tim Weah, currently plays for Serie A’s Juventus and the United States national team.