Lazy eyes listen
Liberia will have a second round of elections next month after President George Weah and his primary opponent, Joseph Nyumah Boakai, both failed to earn the requisite majority in the first round of voting, according to the country’s electoral board, which announced the decision on Tuesday.
President Weah earned 43.83% of the vote in the October 10 election, according to the National Elections Commission (NEC), while former Vice President Boakai received 43.44%. The race was the closest in the West African country since a civil war ended nearly two decades ago.
To win an outright victory in Liberia, a presidential contender must receive more than 50% of the valid votes cast in the first ballot.
“With the results of the 10th October polls showing that no presidential ticket obtained 50 percent plus one vote, a run-off election is hereby declared to be held on Tuesday, 14 November 2023 between the two tickets that obtained the highest number of votes,” the National Electoral Commission (NEC) said.
Weah, 57, is a former international footballer who is the only African to have won the game’s most coveted individual award, the Ballon d’Or. After none of the remaining 18 candidates received more than 3% of the vote, he will now face off against Boakai.
Weah was elected president of Liberia in 2017 after the country’s first democratic transition in 70 years, receiving 60% of the vote in the second round against Boakai. The country had been through two severe natural disasters.
The first term under Weah has been marred by allegations of corruption, with his rival Boakai accusing him of leading Africa’s oldest independent republic into economic hardship. The president has also been accused of failing to fulfill key campaign promises, including ensuring justice for victims of the country’s civil wars.
Boakai, who served as vice president under Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Africa’s first female elected head of state, from 2006 to 2018, has stated that if elected president, she will establish a government that authentically represents Liberians’ political, social, and religious diversity.
Observers from the European Union, the African Union, the West African regional group ECOWAS, and the United States supervised the October 10 elections, the first since the UN completed its peacekeeping mission in Liberia in 2018. Following the end of the second civil war, the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) was established in 2003 to supervise a ceasefire deal.
The Liberia Elections Observation Network (LEON) praised the NEC last week for its transparency, noting that the commission’s prior official findings were consistent.