Liberia: Former football striker George Weah wins presidential election

Friday, December 29, 2017

Yesterday, the Liberian National Elections Commission (NEC) said former football player George Weah won Tuesday's second round of the 2017 Liberian presidential election, winning 61.5% of the votes after 98.1% of the ballots were counted, defeating current vice-president Joseph Boakai.

In the first round of the election, held in October, Weah led Boakai, but did not receive the threshold of 50% of the votes. In the second round, the turnout was about 56%, the NEC said. There were 27,873 invalid votes, constituting 2.3% of the total votes.

51-year-old Weah is to become president in January. He competed in the presidential election in 2005, but lost to Ellen Sirleaf. Sirleaf is the first female president of Liberia, has served as the president for two terms, and received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2011.

This election marks the first democratic transition in the country since 1944. It is also the first election run independently by Liberia — without help from the United Nations — since the end of civil war in the country in 2003.

Since December 2014, Weah has served as a senator in the parliament. He competed for the vice-presidential post in 2011, but lost to Boakai.

With him, Jewel Howard Taylor stood for the post of vice-president. In an interview with Deutsche Welle, Weah said Taylor "is a Liberian, capable, qualified, and Liberian people love her. I also believe in gender equality, so I think having a woman as my vice president is a good thing".

Weah entered politics after retiring from football in 2003. Weah has played for various European football clubs including AS Monaco, Paris Saint-Germain, AC Milan, Chelsea and Manchester City. In 1995, he won the France Football Ballon d'Or as well as FIFA Player of the Year award. He is the only African to win the Balon d'Or.

Yesterday, Weah tweeted, "My fellow Liberians, I deeply feel the emotion of all the nation. I measure the importance and the responsibility of the immense task which I embrace today. Change is on." French president Emmanuel Macron congratulated Weah, and tweeted, "Congratulations to George Weah for his brilliant election and all of the people of Liberia on their path towards peace and reconciliation. Congrats Mister George." ((fr))French language: ‍Félicitations à George Weah pour sa brillante élection et à l'ensemble du peuple libérien pour le chemin parcouru vers la paix et la réconciliation. Congrats Mister George.

720,023 votes 451,088 votes
George Weah — Coalition for Democratic Change Joseph Boakai — Unity Party
Data from the National Elections Commission after counting 98.1% of the total votes.