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Tuesday, 26 December 2017

Liberians Decide: George Weah Or Joseph Boakai

Liberians Decide: George Weah Or Joseph Boakai

Joseph Boakai, George Weah

Voters in Liberia are heading to the polls to elect a new president in a contested run-off election.

The delayed vote on Tuesday pits George Weah, a 51-year-old ex-international football star and Liberian senator, against 73-year-old Joseph Boakai, who has served as the vice president under President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf for the past 12 years.

A total of 5,390 polling stations across the country opened their doors for 2.1 million registered voters at 08:00 GMT. Polls will close at 18:00 GMT.

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Both Weah, the candidate for the Congress for Democratic Change (CDC), and Boakai, of the Unity Party, have promised to revive Liberia’s struggling economy and kick-start infrastructure projects.

The two ranked first and second respectively in the October 10 first round – Weah won 38.8 percent and Boakai 28.8 percent – but neither secured the 50 percent needed to win outright.

Initially scheduled for November 7, the run-off was delayed after the party of a third candidate filed a legal complaint alleging voter fraud and irregularities.

Liberia’s Supreme Court ultimately cleared the way for the vote to take place on Tuesday.

In the campaign trail, Weah promised to lower poverty levels by creating jobs in both infrastructure and agriculture.

He also said a CDC government would consider paying exam fees and using a sector-wide review to bolster Liberia’s weak education system.

Weah is using his popularity as a sports icon to garner votes with Liberian youth, a large demographic. Roughly 60 percent of Liberia’s population is under 30.

Jewel Taylor-Howard, a senior senator and ex-wife of former President Charles Taylor who is serving a 50-year sentence for war crimes, is running as Weah’s running mate.

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