Weah, Boakai for Liberia presidential runoff poll
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