Liberia’s presidential election appears headed for a runoff, with the main candidates neck and neck and votes almost completely counted.
President George Weah , who is seeking a second term, received 43.8% of the vote and his main opponent, Joseph Boakai , 43.4%, according to the National Electoral Commission. A candidate must obtain more than 50% of the votes to win.
Once the votes for this round are finalized, the second round will take place within 15 days. The elections of October 10 are the closest in almost 20 years, that is to say since the end of the civil war which left some 250,000 dead.
The final tally will have to wait until the end of the week, when re-voting is expected in two locations in Nimba County because ballot boxes were stolen, the commission said. Nimba County is an opposition stronghold , but analysts believe the result will not significantly change the results or push anyone over the finish line.
Mr. Weah, 57, a former international soccer star , came to power six years ago in the first democratic transfer of power in the West African country since the end of two civil wars there. were succeeded between 1989 and 2003.
Mr. Weah won this election thanks to high hopes raised by his promise to fight poverty and promote infrastructure development in Africa’s oldest republic. His goal, he said in 2017, was to move Liberia from low-income to middle-income status.
But Mr. Weah has been accused of failing to deliver on his main campaign promises , namely to fight corruption and guarantee justice for victims of the civil wars that ravaged the country. This is the second time he has faced Boakai, whom he defeated by a margin of more than 20% in the 2017 election.
Boakai, who served as vice president under Ellen Johnson Sirleaf , Africa’s first democratically elected female leader, campaigned on a promise to save Liberia from what he calls Weah’s failed leadership, dubbing himself and his running mate “Rescue 1” and “Rescue 2” .
Many election observers thought there would be a stronger third-party candidate to split the vote, but that was not the case, said Ibrahim Al-bakri Nyei, a political analyst and director of the Ducor Institute for Elections. social and economic research.
“There is no clear winner. This shows that the president is strong in some areas, but also that people’s dissatisfaction with the government is high, given the overwhelming support for the opposition.” , did he declare.