- Weah Camp Claims Victory in Liberia Presidential Poll
Former soccer star George Weah’s camp said on Wednesday that he was set to win Liberia’s presidential election run-off against Vice-President Joseph Boakai.
Boakai’s camp, however, said the contest was still too close to call, while official results of the poll and the winner have yet to be announced.
Liberians voted on Tuesday in a run-off for a successor to outgoing President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.
According to Reuters, Liberian election officials began collating the votes from Liberia’s 15 counties on Wednesday and planned to announce preliminary results in the afternoon, with final results due on Thursday.
Unofficial partial results announced on local radio stations all showed Weah in the lead. Weah, the only African ever to be named FIFA World Player of the Year, lost to Johnson Sirleaf in a 2005 election as a political novice. He has served in Liberia’s senate since 2015.
A senior Weah adviser, Morluba Morlu, told Reuters he expected Weah to win with about 70 per cent of the vote based on precinct-level vote tallies he said were trickling in from across the country after Tuesday’s vote.
“It is clear. We are only waiting for the (election commission) to announce the results and declare him president. We are calling on … Boakai to concede defeat and congratulate George Weah,” Morlu said.
Boakai spokesman Robert Kpadeh, however, predicted a close race.
“The numbers give us a good feeling. From now to tomorrow (Thursday) morning, we should have bigger numbers from our strongholds. We are still optimistic that the numbers can favour us,” he told Reuters.
Liberia, Africa’s oldest modern republic, was founded by freed United States slaves in 1847, but its last democratic transfer of power occurred in 1944. After a violent military coup in 1980 it experienced instability and civil war that ended only in 2003.
In a statement, the United Nations Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, welcomed the “orderly poll” and its peaceful conduct.
Johnson Sirleaf’s 12-year rule cemented peace and won her the Nobel Peace Prize, but many Liberians have criticised her for not doing enough to root out endemic poverty and corruption and are eager for fresh leadership.
Weah has positioned himself an outsider who will deliver tangible benefits to the country’s young population.