Liberian president Weah to face opponent Boakai for 2nd time in runoff vote

MONROVIA, Liberia (AP) — Liberian President George Weah will face off against challenger Joseph Boakai for the second time in a Nov. 14 runoff vote, election officials in the West African nation said Tuesday.

The results of the first round announced by Liberia's National Elections Commission are the closest runoff since the end of the country's back-to-back civil wars.

Weah, a former international soccer star, failed to win an absolute majority and took 43.83% of the first roundvote, the commission announced. Boakai led a crowded field of challengers with 43.44%.

The two politicians last faced off in the 2017 vote, when Weah ultimately won 60% of the vote in the second round. It was the first democratic transfer of power in the West African nation since the end of the country’s back-to-back civil wars between 1989 and 2003 that killed some 250,000 people.

Weah won that election amid high hopes brought about by his promise to fight poverty and generate infrastructure development. His goal, he had said in 2017, was to push Liberia from a low-income country to a middle-income one.

But Weah has been accused of not living up to key campaign promises that he would fight corruption and ensure justice for victims of the country’s civil wars.

Boakai, who served as vice president under Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Africa’s first democratically elected female leader, has campaigned on a promise to rescue Liberia from what he called Weah’s failed leadership.

Weah is the only African to have won the Ballon d’Or. He played as a forward for Paris Saint-Germain, AC Milan, Chelsea and Manchester City during an 18-year club career. His 23-year-old son, Tim, now plays for Serie A club Juventus and the U.S. national team.