Soccer star George Weah wins Liberian presidential election

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Former soccer star George Weah has defeated Vice President Joseph Boakai to win Liberia’s presidential election run-off with 61.5 percent of the vote, based on 98.1 percent of ballots cast, the election commission said on Thursday.

The announcement by commission chairman Jerome Korkoyah means Weah will succeed Ellen Johnson Sirleaf as Liberia’s president next month, in what will be the country’s first democratic transition since 1944.

Earlier, the U.S.-based Carter Center said there were “notable improvements” in the handling of Tuesday’s vote from the first round in October, echoing positive assessments from other international observers.

“We are very confident. We have not heard from Mr. Boakai but we anticipate a call at some point,” the secretary-general of Weah’s campaign, Janga Kowo, told Reuters.

Kowo said his team’s figures were based on nearly 60 percent of ballots cast and showed him ahead in 14 out of Liberia’s 15 counties.

In an interview in the courtyard of his home on the outskirts of the capital Monrovia, Boakai said he thought he would win.

“I don’t have a sense of losing the election,” he said.

“What we wanted and all hoped for were free, fair and transparent elections. I doubt seriously if that is what we are going to get,” he added, without elaborating.

Weah, the only African ever to be named FIFA World Player of the Year, was widely considered the favourite to succeed outgoing president and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.

Liberia is Africa’s oldest modern republic and was founded by freed U.S. slaves in 1847. Its last democratic transfer of power occurred in 1944 and was followed by a military coup in 1980 and a 14-year civil war that ended only in 2003.