Weah for the win?

The Africa Report - - BRIEFING -

Once a cel­e­brated striker for AC Milan, Ge­orge Weah is on the brink of scor­ing the most im­por­tant goal in his ca­reer – win­ning the Liberian pres­i­dency. Af­ter a hec­tic cam­paign with 20 con­tenders in the first round of vot­ing on 10 Oc­to­ber, Weah emerged the clear leader with 39% of the votes. He grew up in the slums of Mon­rovia with lit­tle ac­cess to ed­u­ca­tion and health­care, and his story of fight­ing against the odds to be­come a foot­ball star res­onated with Liberi­ans. He will take on the es­tab­lish­ment can­di­date, vice-pres­i­dent Joseph Boakai, in the se­cond round of vot­ing on 7 Novem­ber. The mo­men­tum is with Weah, and he says he has learned his les­son from the 2005 elec­tions when he was lead­ing in the first round but was eas­ily de­feated by Ellen John­son Sir­leaf af­ter she stitched to­gether a coali­tion of the smaller par­ties. Boakai will strug­gle to do that, hav­ing fallen out with vet­eran politi­cian Charles Brum­sk­ine, who was run­ning third with 9.8% of the votes. And most sup­port­ers of Alex Cum­mings, a former Coca-cola ex­ec­u­tive, and Prince John­son, a mili­tia leader turned evan­gel­i­cal preacher, look set to back Weah. But two ques­tions haunt Weah: his close re­la­tions with jailed war­lord Charles Tay­lor, whose ex-wife Jewel Howard is Weah's run­ning mate; and the source of fi­nance for his gl­itzy pop­ulist cam­paign.

Ge­orge Weah is the front run­ner in the up­com­ing vote

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