The former footballer Sen. George Manneh Weah of the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) has won Liberia’s presidential election, defeating vice-president Joseph Boakai in a runoff with over 262,935 votes.
Thursday’s announcement by the country’s election commission chair, 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. It follows two devastating civil wars.
The commission said Weah had taken 61.5% of the vote, based on 98.1% of ballots cast.
George Manneh Weah topped the first round of voting in October with 38.4% of ballots but failed to win the 50% necessary to avoid a runoff. Boakai came second with 28.8%.
Weah, 51, is the only African to be Fifa’s world player of the year or to have won the coveted Ballon d'Or for Europe’s best player.
The victory for him would make him Liberia’s first democratically elected President to receive power from an outgoing democratically elected President in 73 years.
Weah would have a daunting task taking over from Africa’s first democratically elected female President whose administration won the admiration of the West, yet heavily criticized at home.
Issues of corruption, infrastructure development, agriculture, health, roads amongst others, remain major challenges the ‘inexperienced’ politician would have to grapple with.
Weah hasn’t expressed or articulated his platform clearly to give a detailed methodology on what his focus would be and how he intends going about it.
Weah played for Paris Saint-Germain and AC Milan in the 1990s before moving to England late in his career for spells at Chelsea and Manchester City.
Sirleaf’s office said it had set up a team “for the proper management and orderly transfer of executive power from one democratically elected president to another,” adding that it included several ministers.
An estimated 250,000 people died during back-to-back civil wars in Liberia between 1989-2003, and political instability has prevented any democratic handover of power since 1944.