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Monrovia: George Weah or Joseph Boakai? Liberia at Voting Time.

Six years after their first presidential duel, George Weah and Joseph Boakai find themselves face-to-face again. Liberians are called to the polls on November 14 to decide whether they will re-elect the former football star with a criticized record – he won the previous election with over 61% – or prefer the veteran despite his age.

This second round is expected to be close, as Weah, 57, and Boakai, 78, were neck-and-neck in the first round on October 10, with just over 43% and a lead of 7,126 votes for the incumbent president.

More than 2.4 million voters are invited to cast their ballots from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. (local and GMT) between an incumbent who remains popular among the youth but must defend a criticized record, and an experienced politician who served as the vice president from 2006 to 2018 under Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the first woman elected head of state in Africa.
The electoral commission has 15 days to publish the results, but it could take less time, says one of its officials, Samuel Cole.
Prince Johnson, kingmaker?

The runoff primarily involved both camps securing the support of voters from the other 18 candidates, none of whom reached 3%. The third-place candidate from the first round, Edward Appleton, and two others among the top six candidates have called for voting for Boakai.
Read more: Against George Weah, will Joseph Boakai get his revenge?

The voter turnout could also be a significant factor, according to Lawrence Yealue, Liberia director of Accountability Lab, a network for good governance. He predicts a lower turnout than the record set on October 10 (78.86%) because this vote will not be coupled with parliamentary elections this time.

George Weah maintains his aura as the only African to be awarded the Ballon d’Or, the most prestigious individual football award. Benefiting from the image of an approachable and peaceful man, he claims credit for his efforts in education, electrification of households, road and hospital construction. He promises to continue working for the development of one of the poorest countries on the planet. His critics accuse him of not keeping his promises and of being disconnected from the realities faced by citizens struggling with price hikes and shortages. According to the World Bank, more than a fifth of the population lives on less than $2.15 per day.

Joseph Boakai, blaming him for the worsening of reputedly endemic corruption, promises to develop infrastructure, attract investors and tourists, and improve the lives of the poorest. He has formed alliances with local power players, including former warlord and senator Prince Johnson, who supported Weah six years ago.
Fear of post-election violence

One of the challenges is the peaceful and orderly conduct of the election and the acceptance of results. This election is the first organized without the presence of the United Nations Mission in Liberia, created in 2003 (and departed in 2018) to ensure peace after the civil wars that claimed over 250,000 lives between 1989 and 2003, and whose memory remains vivid. The election “undoubtedly represents a crucial step in the consolidation of peace and democracy in Liberia and the region,” said the UN in a recent statement.

Clashes during the campaign have resulted in several deaths, raising concerns about post-election violence. Boakai reported on November 12 attacks and abuses against his camp, including a firearm attack on November 10 against a convoy carrying Prince Johnson and vice-presidential candidate Jeremiah Kpan Koung. Seven people were reportedly injured.

Boakai’s camp has also denounced irregularities in the first round. The numerous international observers deployed praised the smooth running of the first round in a region where democracy is shaken by a series of coups.

The campaign was also marked by disinformation. The United States, an important partner of Liberia, warned that they were considering the possibility of restricting visa issuance against individuals “guilty or complicit in actions undermining democracy.”

Source : Cameroon