Liberia Presidential Runoff: Weah may win the election, but, not the people

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Liberia the west African country of over 5 million people stands at a critical juncture as it braces for a Presidential runoff, after the incumbent president George Weah and his closest challenger, Joseph Boakai, failed to secure more than 50% of the total votes cast on October 10.  Protests remain likely nationwide after the National Elections Commission (NEC) announced a presidential runoff scheduled for Nov. 14.

This year’s election mirrors the 2017 contest when Weah won the current opposition contender with a razor-thin margin in a runoff.

This year, President Weah led the first round, gaining 43.83% of the vote, and Boakai had 43.44%.

With the very slim margin between them, and the absence of a strong third candidate, shows that the runoff will be very competitive.

President Weah who had won in 2017 with a promise to tackle corruption and improve livelihoods in the West African nation that is still emerging from two civil wars between 1989 and 2003, and the 2013-16 Ebola epidemic that killed thousands, has largely failed to match his promises with action.

Most of the voters have become disenchanted over Weah’s failures, particularly on corruption, high rate of youth unemployment, food inflation, and general economic hardship.

Weah has blamed the coronavirus pandemic and consequences of the Russia-Ukraine war for failures to deliver on economic targets.

One of the primary hurdles facing Weah is Liberia’s economic woes. Despite promises of economic revitalization during his first term, the country continues to grapple with high unemployment rates, inflation, and a widening wealth gap. A recent survey by Global Finance, ranks Liberia 10 on the list of poorest countries in the world, alongside, Chad, Malawi, Niger, amongst others.

 

 

President Weah is also battling with Poor Public Perception and Trust.  Public sentiment towards the President has been a rollercoaster, oscillating between hope and disappointment. While his initial election was fueled by high expectations, concerns about corruption, governance, and the perceived slow pace of development have eroded some of the trust he once enjoyed.

Surveys indicate that a significant portion of the electorate remains hopeful that he may not get a second term.

 

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