Six out of 10 back Weah as Liberia’s new president
The former football star George Weah has won Liberia’s presidential election, defeating the vice-president, Joseph Boakai, in a runoff with 61.5% of the vote.
Last Thursday’s announcement by the country’s election commission chair, Jerome Korkoyah, means Weah, pictured right, will succeed Ellen Johnson Sirleaf as Liberia’s president next month, after an election fraught with accusations of fraud. It will be the country’s first democratic transition since 1944 and follows two devastating civil wars.
Spontaneous celebrations erupted in the capital, Monrovia, a Weah stronghold. Supporters danced, clapped and sang “Olé, olé, olé” outside the electoral commission’s of- fices as the results were read out.
Weah, a national sporting hero, topped the first round of voting in October with 38.4% but failed to win the 50% necessary to avoid a runoff. Boakai came second with 28.8%. The r runoff was delayed twice after several parties took their alle allegations of malpractice to the supreme court, but it final nally took place with a low turn turnout on 26 December. W Weah, 51, is the only African to be Fifa’s world player of the year yea or to have won the Ballon d’Or for Europe’s best player. At the time, Nelson Mandela called him the “pride of Africa”. His was already an inspirational story to a generation of Africans: he grew up in Clara Town, a poor suburb of Monrovia, and played football across the river in West Point, Liberia’s biggest informal settlement, where he still has a large fanbase. Many see his becoming president as a fitting next chapter in the rags-to-riches fairytale and one that gives them hope.
“With George, he will empower the youth, the women, and will develop the country,” said one supporter.