Liberia's George Weah heads to second round in tight polls

Liberia's Incumbent President George Weah casts his vote at a polling station in Monrovia on October 10, 2023, during the presidential vote. Liberians began voting Tuesday on whether to give football legend George Weah a second term as president, with peace among voters' main concerns in a nation still scarred by back-to-back civil wars.

Photo credit: AFP

Liberia's President George Weah may have to wait for a second round of voting to find out if he will retain his seat.

A vote count showed that none of the 19 candidates vying for the country's presidency had reached the threshold needed to be declared the winner, meaning the contest will have to be decided by a run-off.

This means that the two main candidates, incumbent President George Weah, a football legend, and former Vice President Joseph Boakai, will face each other in the second round.

According to the National Elections Commission of Liberia (NEC Liberia), the two are neck and neck with less than 50 per cent of the vote.

President Weah has 43.8 per cent of the votes cast, just ahead of Mr Boakai with 43.5 per cent, according to provisional results.

By law, a candidate needs 50 per cent plus one vote to be declared the winner.

Liberians went to the polls on Tuesday, October 10 in the fourth general election since the country emerged from civil war in 2003.

The 2.4 million registered voters cast their ballots for 20 presidential candidates and 88 lawmakers vying for seats in the House of Representatives and the Senate.

Football legend

Mr Boakai served as vice president of Liberia from 2006 to 2018 under Africa's first female president, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. He lost the 2017 election to football legend George Weah. Mr Weah won a second round with 61.5 per cent of the vote to Mr Boakai's 38.5 per cent.

Weah, 57, who is running under his Congress for Democratic Change (CDC) party, is seeking re-election for his second and final six-year term. Boakai is running under the former ruling Unity Party. This is the second time he has challenged the incumbent.

Ahead of the vote, many political analysts had predicted a second round between Weah and Boakai.

Voter turnout was reported to be very high and local and international election observers described the process as peaceful.

According to NEC Liberia, more than 98 per cent of polling stations have been counted.

If a run-off is confirmed, it will take place on November 7.