Ex-war­lord, foot­baller to con­test in Liberia pres­i­den­tial elec­tions

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

Twenty can­di­dates will con­test pres­i­den­tial elec­tions in Liberia in Oc­to­ber, among them a for­mer war­lord, a foot­baller and a fash­ion model, as Ellen Johnson Sir­leaf steps down af­ter two terms, the elec­toral com­mis­sion said yes­ter­day. There is no ob­vi­ous fron­trun­ner to re­place the No­bel Prize-win­ning Sir­leaf as head of the frag­ile west African state she was elected to lead in 2005 fol­low­ing a long civil war, one that has left deep scars on its econ­omy and so­cial fab­ric.

Elec­tions for the pres­i­dency and House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives take place on Oc­to­ber 10 — the first time since the end of the con­flict in 2003 that Liberia will be hold­ing a vote with­out the pres­ence of UN peace­keep­ers. Ahead of the open­ing of cam­paign­ing yes­ter­day, the UN ap­pealed for the bal­lot to go ahead smoothly, urg­ing all “to spare no ef­fort in their pur­suit of peace­ful elec­tions.” Among the pres­i­dent/vi­cepres­i­dent tick­ets put for­ward by po­lit­i­cal par­ties, key fig­ures from the civil con­flict loom large. Sen­a­tor Prince Johnson-a one­time rebel fighter filmed drink­ing beer dur­ing the no­to­ri­ous mur­der of for­mer pres­i­dent Sa­muel Doe in 1990 — is stand­ing for pres­i­dent for the Move­ment for Democ­racy and Re­con­struc­tion (MDR).

Foot­ball su­per­star and Sen­a­tor Ge­orge Weah will stand for the Coali­tion for Demo­cratic Change (CDC) with Jewel Howard-Tay­lor, 54, the ex-wife of Charles Tay­lor, as his vice-pres­i­dent pick. Charles Tay­lor, once Liberia’s most feared rebel fighter, is serv­ing a 50-year sen­tence in a Bri­tish jail for his role in fu­elling neigh­bor­ing Sierra Leone’s own long civil con­flict. Two prom­i­nent busi­ness­men, Coca-Cola ex­ec­u­tive Alexan­der Cum­mings and tele­coms ty­coon Benoni Urey, are stand­ing on pro-jobs and pro-growth plat­forms as they aim to bring cor­po­rate ex­per­tise to the pres­i­dency.

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