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Ex-Footballer George Weah Leads Liberia Presidential Poll as Liberty Party Seeks Suspension of Results

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Former World Footballer of the Year, Mr George Opong Weah may have shot into an early lead in the Liberia presidential polls, but his opponent in the Liberty Party has demanded that the election results be suspended due to ‘irregularities’.

Weah, who emerged the world’s best footballer in 1995, is ahead of three other presidential contestants, one of them the sitting vice-president Joseph Boakai, others are longtime opposition figure Charles Brumskine and former Coca-Cola executive, Alexander Cummings.

While many social media users begun to celebrate Weah’s presumed victory by Wednesday night, election observers in Liberia advised caution, urging the public to await the full results as may be released by Liberia’s National Elections Commission (NEC).

The former footballer is presently a member of the Liberian senate, having been elected to represent the Montserrado County which includes the country’s capital, Monrovia, on the platform of the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) in December 2014. Weah won with 78% of the vote and defeated Robert Sirleaf, the son of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. The victory is believed to have boosted his political image across the West African country ahead of the 2017 presidential poll which held on Tuesday, October 10.

The former Manchester City striker first contested the presidential election in 2005 which he lost to the now outgoing President Sirleaf. A second shot as a running mate to William Tubman in 2011 also missed the mark as Sirleaf’s Unity Party garnered 530,020 votes while the CDC earned 394,370 votes.

For many weeks leading up to the 2017 polls, many analysts adjudged Weah the clear favourite to win the polls, while the ex-footballer on one occasion also declared that he would only accept the results if he emerged victorious.

If eventually confirmed as winner of the presidential election, George Weah has an onerous task of stepping into Sirleaf’s shoes. As Africa’s first female president, Sirleaf has overseen Liberia’s recovery from a difficult past marked by civil war and recently by an outbreak of the viral Ebola disease. Nearly half of Liberia’s population still lives in poverty and alleviating their condition will undoubtedly be one of the major tasks of Sirleaf’s successor which many expect to be the world-renowned Weah who achieved fame playing for Italy’s AC Milan and Paris Saint Germain (PSG) of France.

Meanwhile, the Liberty Party and its flag-bearer, Charles Brumskine have called on the elections commission to immediately suspend the announcement of Tuesday’s election results.

The party’s national chairman, Benjamin Sanvee in a statement, “The Liberty Party is deeply troubled by the discovery of numerous incidents of irregularities and fraud that occurred during the elections.”

He added: “We are calling on NEC to immediately halt further announcements of election results. If NEC does not cooperate with our request, we will take the appropriate legal action.”

Sanvee failed to provide specific details of alleged irregularities even as Reuters reports that election materials arrived some polling booths late while voters struggled to find their names in some other units. It is yet to be seen what significant effect such incidents had on the general conduct of the election.

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