The latest from Liberia, former soccer star George Weah is leading in early presidential election results in 11 of Liberia’s 15 counties, National Elections Commission Chairman Jerome G. Korkoya said on Thursday.
If declared winner, the 1995 FIFA World Player of the Year and Ballon d’Or winner, will succeed President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, in a contest that completes the country’s first democratic transition of power in more than 70 years.
In the 2005 and 2011 presidential elections, Weah’s CDC party and Sirleaf’s Unity Party went into the run-off round of voting. Weah was battling with Vice president Joseph Boakai.
The nation’s 2.18 million registered voters made their choice from a crowded field of 20 presidential candidates — including just one woman — and elected 73 parliamentarians for the lower chamber, the House of Representatives.
President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the continent’s first female president, is leaving power after serving 12 years in office – the maximum allowed under the West African country’s constitution. Johnson Sirleaf won a surprise victory in 2005 following a post-war transition. She was re-elected in 2011 but is barred from seeking another term
President Sirleaf, 78, urged Liberians on Monday to respect the outcome of the hotly contested election regardless of who wins.
“Go to the polls peacefully, respecting every Liberian’s right to vote with dignity and pride. Embrace your neighbour, regardless of their political choice,” Sirleaf, popularly knowns Ellen Ma, said in a speech broadcast on state television.
“The future of the country is in your hands. Vote for the person and persons you believe will make Liberia a better place. The world will be watching. Let’s make them proud,” she said.
The US State Department hailed the vote as “an important step toward achieving Liberia’s first peaceful transfer of power from one democratically-elected head of state to another in decades”.