Liberians go to the polls Tuesday (26 December) to select either former international footballer George Weah (51) or Vice President Joseph Boakai (72) as their new president, in a vote that analysts say is too close to call.
Campaigns over, ballot boxes and other electoral materials deployed across Liberia, the National Elections Commission (NEC) says all is set for today’s crucial runoff vote. On Christmas day, the NEC spokesperson confirmed that the body was done with over 95% nationwide deployment of materials.
The second round of the presidential election was held up for several weeks by a court challenge filed by Charles Brumskine, the third place candidate in the first round.
Polling stations opened at 8:00 am (0800 GMT) for the West African nation’s 2.1 million voters. They will choose a successor to President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, who is stepping down after serving 12 years as Africa’s first elected female leader, representing Liberia’s only democratic transfer of power since 1944.
Both contenders have already announced they are confident of victory but the final result is not expected to be known for a few days. You know I’ve been in competitions –- tough ones too and I came out victorious. So I know Boakai cannot defeat me,” Weah told AFP on Saturday. “I have the people on my side.”
Boakai said Sunday he was “very, very confident” of winning, telling AFP: “Victory is mine”.
In the first round of voting on 10 October, Weah topped the poll with 38.4 per cent while Boakai came second with 28.8 per cent, triggering a run-off as neither made it past the 50 per cent needed to win outright. Boakai then accused the NEC of fraud and incompetence grave enough to have affected the vote, delaying proceedings while the complaints were analysed by the Supreme Court. His party’s arguments were ultimately rejected.
Whoever wins the delayed vote faces an economy battered by lower commodity prices for its main exports of rubber and iron ore, and a rapidly depreciating currency.