Weah, Boakai for Liberia pres­i­den­tial runoff poll

African Times - - International/Africa - MULBAH WESSEH

FOR­MER global soc­cer star, Geroge Weah and Vice Pres­i­dent Joseph Boakai look set to con­test a run off next month af­ter land­mark pres­i­den­tial polls in Liberia failed to pro­duce an out­right win­ner.

The two can­di­dates com­fort­ably led the 20-can­di­date race to suc­ceed Africa’s first elected fe­male head of state, Ellen John­son Sir­leaf, in a suc­ces­sion that would en­sure the im­pov­er­ished West African coun­try’s first demo­cratic trans­fer of power in more than 70 years.

It was the third reg­u­lar poll af­ter the end of the civil war in 2005.

Ahead of the Na­tional Elec­tions Com­mis­sion (NEC) re­lease of the re­lease of the fi­nal cer­ti­fied re­sults, for­mer African, Euro­pean and World Foot­baller of the Year, Weah (aged 51) re­ceived over 39 per­cent of the 1,2 mil­lion votes cast.

Weah leads the Congress for Demo­cratic Change (CDC).

Busi­ness ad­min­is­tra­tion ex­pert Boakai, of the rul­ing Unity Party had 29,6 per­cent while lawyer Charles Brum­sk­ine was third with 9,7 per­cent of the vote.

While the polls were char­ac­terised by a num­ber of prob­lems, they were en­dorsed.

Among other prob­lems in­clude the late open­ing of all too many vot­ing sta­tions, late ar­rival of bal­lots, in­ef­fi­ciency of the queue con­trollers, an­gry vot­ers whose names could not be found on the vot­ers roll but later al­lowed to cast their votes.

The Carter Cen­tre, led by the for­mer Pres­i­dent of the Cen­tral African Repub­lic, Cather­ine Sam­baPanza, com­mended the Liberian peo­ple for their en­thu­si­asm and de­ter­mi­na­tion to peace­fully ex­press their will at the bal­lot box.

“The pre-elec­tion pe­riod was char­ac­ter­ized by a peace­ful cam­paign pe­riod, trans­par­ent prepa­ra­tions, and lo­gis­ti­cal chal­lenges. Over­all, elec­tion day was peace­ful,” the or­gan­i­sa­tion stated.

It noted no mat­ter the out­come of the elec­tion, it would re­sult in a trans­fer of power from one demo­crat­i­cally elected gov­ern­ment to an­other for the first time in the lives of many Liberi­ans.

“This mo­ment is an im­por­tant turn­ing point for the na­tion’s democ­racy, and the Liberian peo­ple have shown a clear de­sire for a peace­ful and smooth trans­fer of power.”

Head of the Eco­nomic Com­mu­nity of West African States (ECOWAS), for­mer Ghana­ian Pres­i­dent, John Dra­mani Ma­hama, said Liberi­ans had “ex­er­cised their sov­er­eign right to de­cide who led them.”

“This mis­sion be­lieves thus far, that with the en­vi­ron­ment in the lead up to the elec­tions, vot­ing day ac­tiv­i­ties, sort­ing and count­ing of the bal­lots, Liberia is on track to achieve a cred­i­ble poll,” Ma­hama said.

The African Union Elec­tion Ob­server Mis­sion con­cluded that de­spite some lo­gis­ti­cal and tech­ni­cal chal­lenges faced by NEC, over­all, the pre-elec­tion and elec­tion day pro­cesses were con­ducted in an or­derly, trans­par­ent and cred­i­ble man­ner. “The mis­sion com­mends all Liberi­ans for demon­strat­ing their strong com­mit­ment to demo­cratic con­sol­i­da­tion,” it stated.

Liberia’s elec­tions took place in a con­text marked by sig­nif­i­cant de­crease in in­ter­na­tional sup­port.

This puts con­sid­er­able pres­sure on scarce na­tional re­sources as the coun­try re­cov­ers from neg­a­tive hu­man and fi­nan­cial ef­fects of the Ebola epi­demic.

IN THE LEAD: GE­ORGE WEAH

FIERCE CON­TEST: JOSEPH BOAKAI

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