THIRD TIME LUCKY? Liberian presidential candidate George-Weah

Liberians are going to the polls to choose a successor to Africa’s first elected female president and Nobel Peace laureate Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, with former FIFA World Player of the Year 1995 George Weah and Vice-President Joseph Boakai the main contenders in the race to succeed her.

Liberia, founded by freed US slaves in the 19th Century, has not had a smooth transfer of power in 73 years, and Ms Sirleaf Johnson urged people to vote peacefully in a nation still recovering from a 14-year civil war.

“Your vote is about you and your family – not party, ethnicity,” she said in an address to the nation.

A total of 20 presidential candidates are running to succeed Ms Sirleaf. They include Alex Cummings, a former Coca-Cola executive, and MacDella Cooper, an ex-model and girlfriend of Mr Weah.

Ms Sirleaf, 78, who took office in 2006 after her predecessor Charles Taylor was forced out of office by rebels in 2003, is stepping down at the end of her two terms.

Taylor is currently serving a 50-year prison sentence in the UK for war crimes related to the conflict in neighbouring Sierra Leone.

Mr Weah, 51, has chosen Taylor’s ex-wife Jewel Howard Taylor as his running mate.

Named African Player of the Year in 1989, 1994 and 1995, Mr. Weah is trying out his third attemnpt at becoming Liberian President.

Ms Sirleaf has failed to campaign for Mr Boakai, fuelling speculation that the two have fallen out.

Almost 2.2 million people are registered to vote in the election.

Parliamentary elections are also being held at the same time.

Campaigning has been dominated by promises to tackle poverty, corruption, and guarantee stability in the West African state.

Liberia is one of the poorest countries in the world, with more than 50% of people living in poverty.

It was also one of three West African states badly hit by the 2014-15 Ebola outbreak which left more than 11,300 people dead.

 

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