The former international footballer George Weah and Liberia’s vice-president, Joseph Boakai, will face a runoff for the country’s presidency on 7 November, the electoral commission announced on Sunday. With tallies in from 95.6% of polling stations, Weah took 39% of the votes and Boakai 29.1%, both well short of the 50% barrier required to win outright from the first round of voting held on Tuesday. Whoever wins the second round of voting will replace Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Africa’s first elected female head of state, who is stepping down as president after a maximum of two terms. Jerome Korkoya, the chairman of the National Elections Commission, told journalists that 1,550,923 votes had been counted and turnout was at 74.52% across the small west African nation. The handover would represent Liberia’s first peaceful transfer of power in more than seven decades.
“Now there are two clear choices. We believe we are the viable alternative,” Wilmot Paye, the national chairman of Boakai’s Unity party, told AFP.
“It’s not a question of who’s leading, it’s a question of who will win the race. And ultimately we’ll win the race,” Paye added, suggesting that votes for the 18 unsuccessful candidates who lost in the first round would move to Boakai.
Wilson Tarpeh, the campaign manager for Weah’s Coalition for Democratic Change, said his party was “prepared for a runoff, and we are confident that we are going to win a runoff”.