Liberia election: Ex-football star George Weah takes early lead

Former football star George Weah shows his voting card at a polling station in Monrovia on October 10, 2017Image copyright

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George Weah is usually senator for Montserrado County in Liberia

Partial results through Liberia’s presidential election show former football star George Weah has taken an early lead.

Figures through the National Elections Commission (NEC) put Mr Weah ahead in 11 out of 15 counties, although most votes have yet to be counted.

His main rival, incumbent Vice-President Joseph Boakai, leads in one county as well as is usually second in most others.

A candidate needs more than 50% of the votes for outright victory.

If no-one achieves which, a second round will be held in November.

The election is usually to choose a successor to Ellen Johnson Sirleaf – Africa’s first elected female president as well as a Nobel Peace laureate.

As the results came in, the manager of Arsenal Football Club, Arsene Wenger, was apparently duped by false reports which Mr Weah had won.

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Arsene Wenger coached George Weah from the 1990s when he was in charge of French club Monaco

“I could like to congratulate one of my former players, who became president of Liberia,” Mr Wenger told reporters.

“the idea’s not often you have a former player who becomes president of a country. So well done, Georgie.

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NEC Chairman Jerome Korkoya hit out at false reports as well as said his officials were doing their best to get accurate official results out as quickly as possible.

“This specific commission has not declared any winner,” he stressed.

International election observers said they had not identified any major problems with Tuesday’s voting.

However, parties supporting three of the 20 candidates have alleged irregularities as well as said they could contest the result, Reuters reported.

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Vice-President Joseph Boakai says the Liberian people want to see more development

Ms Sirleaf, 78, who is usually stepping down at the end of two terms, hailed the election as a success.

“We believe which all Liberians are ready with This specific process. I thank them for participating in This specific process,” she said.

Liberia, which was founded by freed US slaves from the 19th Century, has not had a smooth transfer of power in 73 years.

Ms Sirleaf took office in 2006, after her predecessor, Charles Taylor, was forced out of office by rebels in 2003, ending a long civil war.

Taylor is usually currently serving a 50-year prison sentence from 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.

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