Weah out front in election
LONDON – Former footballer George Weah is set to become Liberia’s president at the second attempt.
With most ballots from Tuesday’s run-off vote counted, Weah is well ahead of opponent Joseph Boakai.
He will succeed Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Africa’s first elected female president, in Liberia’s first democratic handover in decades.
Sirleaf defeated Weah in the presidential election run-off in 2005, after the end of a brutal civil war.
As news of Weah’s victory emerged yesterday, his supporters began celebrating in the capital Monrovia.
The former football star’s campaign – under the Coalition for Democratic Change banner – appealed to the youth vote, while incumbent Vice President Boakai was seen as old and out of touch.
But Weah’s election is not without controversy, as his running mate is Jewel Taylor, former wife of the warlord and ex-president Charles Taylor, who is serving a jail sentence in the UK for war crimes.
Weah, 51, won the first round of the presidential election in October with 38.4 per cent of the vote, compared with the 28.8 per cent won by second-placed Boakai, 73. The failure of any candidate to secure an outright majority forced the run-off.
The National Elections Commission (NEC) said yesterday that with 98.1 per cent of the run-off vote counted, Weah had won 61.5 per cent of the vote while Boakai was far behind with 38.5 per cent.
Weah played for a string of football clubs, including AC Milan, Chelsea and Paris St-germain, and is the only African footballer to have won both FIFA World Player of the Year and the Ballon D’OR.
He entered politics after his retirement from the game in 2002 and is a senator in Liberia’s parliament.
Liberia, founded by freed US slaves in the 19th century, has not had
a smooth transfer of power from one elected president to another since 1944.
Legal challenges delayed the vote to replace Sirleaf, and turnout was low. Election officials put turnout at 56 per cent.
More than two million people were eligible to cast their ballots in the nation of 4.6 million people.
Sirleaf took office in 2006, after her predecessor Taylor was forced out by rebels in 2003, ending a long civil war.
Taylor is serving his 50-year prison sentence in the UK for war crimes related to the conflict in neighbouring Sierra Leone. (BBC)
Three years ago, yet another lefthander, Shaun Marsh, of Australia, was run out for 99 in the Boxing Day Test against India.
South Africa’s impressive allrounder Jacques Kallis was run out for the topscore of 99 against Australia in the MCG Boxing Day match of 2001.
Australian skipper Ricky Ponting was out for 99 against South Africa in the Boxing Day Test of 2008. South Africa went on to win the match by nine wickets and clinch a series win in Australia for the first time.
The MCG jinx had no effect on the legendary Sir Donald Bradman. He scored a whopping nine Test hundreds in Melbourne and in a distinguished career spanning 52 matches, was never dismissed in the 90s.
Another great Australian Greg Chappell, who started and finished his career with a Test ton, never got out in the nineties during his 87 Tests.
In 156 matches, former Australian captain Allan Border was dismissed only once in the 90s and that was in the Antigua Test of 1984 when he fell to Eldine Baptiste.
Five West Indians have been dismissed for 99 in Test cricket. They are Robert Christiani, Allan Rae, Rohan Kanhai, Maurice Foster and Richie Richardson (twice). Richardson was the last West Indian to endure that fate, falling leg-before to Australian Mark Waugh, before a capacity crowd at Kensington Oval in 1991. He was batting with Gordon Greenidge, who went on to make 226.
Christiani was the first West Indian to be out one short of a hundred, suffering that fate in the 1948 Test at Kensington Oval against England.
Alvin Kallicharran has eight scores in the 90s, falling seven times. The elegant Guyanese was dismissed twice in India for 98, in Mumbai in 1975 and Chennai in 1979. Kallicharran never made a Test hundred in England, the closest he came was at Trent Bridge in 1976, when he fell to Derek Underwood for 97.
The revered Sir Frank Worrell was dismissed in the 90s only once, and that was on debut when he was out for 97 against England at the Queen’s Park Oval in 1948.
Gordon Greenidge has six scores in the 90s, two of them in one match. On the 1980 tour of New Zealand, Greenidge was out for 91 and 97 in Christchurch, falling both times to leftarm seamer Gary Troup.