Tearful George Weah wins Liberian election
Video provided by AFP


Former international soccer star George Weah has defeated Vice President Joseph Boakai to win Liberia’s presidential election runoff with 61.5% of the vote, based on 98.1% of the ballots cast, the election commission said Thursday.

Weah will succeed Ellen Johnson Sirleaf as Liberia’s president next month, in what will be the country’s first democratic transition since 1944. Sirleaf was Africa’s first elected female head of state and in 2011 was jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

Weah led the first round of voting on Oct. 10 but failed to get the requisite 50% of votes to win.

Turnout for the second round vote stood at 56%, the election commission said.  

Observers hailed a credible election held without a single major incident of violence, despite weeks of delays caused by legal challenges backed by Boakai’s Unity Party against the electoral commission over the conduct of the first round. Many of the complaints appeared to have been addressed in the second round.

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres hailed the “peaceful conduct” of the second round vote, commending in a statement “the government, political parties and the people of Liberia for the orderly poll.”

Rags to pinnacle of power

Weah, 51, starred for top European soccer teams Paris Saint-Germain, AC Milan and Chelsea and is the only African ever to have won FIFA’s World Player of the Year.

As a political novice, he lost to Sirleaf in the second round of voting in the 2005 election. He also lost a bid for vice presidency in 2011. He was elected to Liberia’s senate in December 2014.

Having grown up in a slum in the capital Monrovia, his success…