Elections were held on October 10 in Liberia, a West African country with 5 million inhabitants, to renew the parliament and elect the new president. The counting of votes is almost complete, and the two main candidates for president are very close: the current president George Weah He obtained 43.8 percent of the vote, and Joseph Boakai 43.5 percent. With 99.5 percent of the votes already counted, it is now certain that neither of them will be able to reach the 50 percent needed to be elected in the first round, and the run-off will therefore be held on November 7th. None of the other 18 candidates exceeded 3 percent of the vote.
They are the results closer and fought since the end of Liberia’s last civil war in 2003, and indicate that there is currently no clear winner. It is a very different situation from that of the last presidential elections in 2017, whose two main candidates were the same as today. On that occasion, however, Weah always remained clearly ahead of Boakai: won the first round with 38.4 percent of the votes, against Boakai’s 28.8 percent, and then the run-off with 61.5 percent.
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About 1.9 million people they voted, out of 2.4 million eligible people. The voting operations on October 10th were carried out in an orderly manner all in all peaceful, with some exceptions. In some areas of the country it was decided to repeat the vote on Friday 20 October, due to delays in the arrival of electoral documents and accusations of tampering with the results which led to thearrest of nine employees of the national electoral commission. According to many observers, however, the votes arriving from these counties are unlikely to be able to significantly change the final outcome. The full and final results of the first round must be announced by October 25th.
Weah is 57 years old and a very successful former footballer, he played for many years at Milan and then founded the populist party Congress for Democratic Change. Joseph Boakai is 78 years old, part of the center-right Unity Party, and was vice president between 2006 and 2018.
Weah’s first election was accompanied by great hopes for change, which however were partly dashed: Weah managed to expand access to public education, but he did not solve the problem of corruption or significantly improve Liberia’s economic situation , between countries poorer of West Africa also due to two violent civil wars and a major Ebola epidemic, which officially ended in 2015.
Boakai’s electoral campaign was based on the slogan “Rescue”, with the idea of ”saving” the country from the wrong decisions made by Weah. After the announcement of the provisional results of the first round, Boakai asked the voters of the candidates who will not go to the run-off to join his team (the “Rescue team”) to achieve a «clear victory» and «make the country able to breathe freely again». Weah has not yet commented on the results, but before the vote he said that he would accept the final outcome of the elections.