Football Star, Politician are Early Front-runners in Liberia’s Election

Football icon George Weah and Vice President Joseph Boakai are the early front-runners in Liberia’s presidential election results, but election officials said only a third of the ballots had been counted Thursday, three days after the vote.

Voters cast their ballots Tuesday, marking the West African nation’s first smooth transition of power from one democratically elected leadership to another in more than 70 years.

The Liberty Party, however, wants election authorities to stop counting the votes, citing voting irregularities and fraud.

Liberians went to polls to choose the successor to Nobel Peace laureate Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Africa’s first female elected head of state, who is stepping down after serving two six-year terms, as mandated by Liberia’s constitution.

With 20 people running for the West African nation’s highest office, analysts do not believe anyone will win more than 50 percent of the vote, forcing a runoff in November.

Only one woman is vying for the presidency, while another woman, Jewel Howard Taylor, is the running mate of George Weah. Taylor is the ex-wife of former president and warlord Charles Taylor, who is serving a 50-year prison sentence for war crimes in connection with the conflict in neighboring Sierra Leone two decades ago.

Sirleaf has led Liberia through a period of peace in the aftermath of a 14-year civil war that ended in 2003. But the country remains plagued by corruption and is still trying to recover from the Ebola crisis that killed 5,000 people in 2014 and 2015. 


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