By Festus Poquie
Liberia’s 5.4 million people are faced with a familiar options almost six years after the first back-to-back democratic transfer of power in 2017.
They will be choosing between incumbent President Weah and Boakai in the Nov. 14 Runoff Vote.
President George Weah and Joseph Boakai, a former vice president, will contest a runoff election after this month’s vote failed to produce an outright winner of the nation’s top job.
Weah, 57, and Baokai, 78, garnered the most support of the 20 candidates who contested the first round but neither secured a majority, results released by the National Elections Commission showed.
“With the results of the 10 October polls showing that no presidential ticket obtained the 50% plus one vote, a runoff election is hereby declared,” Davidetta Browne Lansanah, the commission’s chairperson, told reporters in Monrovia Tuesday.
Weah secured 43.8% of the ballots cast and Boakai 43.4%, Lansanah said. About 79% of the 2.4 million registered voters cast their ballots, she said.
A former AC Milan star and FIFA World Player of the Year, Weah comfortably defeated Boakai in the 2017 runoff to win his first six-year term, but rising living costs and endemic corruption have eroded his support.
Fuel and food prices have been driven higher by the global pandemic and the fallout from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Inflation quickened to 12.4% in June, the highest in more than two years, before easing to 11.7% in August.
Graft remains endemic in Liberia — it ranks at 142nd out of 180 nations on advocacy group Transparency International’s annual corruption perceptions index.
Last year, Weah accepted the resignations of three close allies after the US Treasury imposed sanctions on them after they were implicated in being party to dubious contracts and diverting public funds.
The incumbent has pledged to build roads and increase access to education, health care and electricity for the West African nation’s 5.4 million inhabitants if reelected.
He’s also undertaken to create an enabling environment for business by cutting debt, curb the Liberian dollar’s depreciation against the US dollar and use fiscal and monetary policy to drive the inflation rate to below 10%.
Boakai, who served as deputy to Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and has capitalized on widespread anti-Weah sentiment to build support, said he will improve the nation’s infrastructure and increase farm output.