As Liberians head to the polls, the nation anxiously awaits the outcome of the presidential election. Incumbent President George Weah is seeking a second term, hoping to continue his work towards peace and economic growth.
The election has generated much excitement and anticipation among the citizens, with their top concerns being the future of the country’s economy and the potential for continued stability.
On Tuesday morning, hundreds of people gathered at polling stations in the capital city of Monrovia in eager anticipation of the voting process, which commenced at 08:00 GMT. The main political parties have made commitments to ensure a peaceful and orderly election, giving hope to the nation that the democratic process will run smoothly. However, some apprehension lingers due to recent clashes between rival party supporters that resulted in the deaths of three people. This tragic incident has raised concerns about a return to the violence that plagued Liberia in the past.
In the final stages of the campaign, scuffles broke out during President Weah’s rally, leaving several individuals injured. Despite these unfortunate incidents, there is a shared hope among the people that this election will be a step towards progress and a brighter future for Liberia. The fact that this is the first election held since the United Nations ended its peacekeeping mission in 2018 adds to its significance.
Liberia has a turbulent history, marred by two civil wars that claimed the lives of over 250,000 people between 1989 and 2003. The United Nations deploy peacekeepers to the nation to restore stability and facilitate the democratic process. President Weah, a former international footballer and the only African to have won the game’s most prestigious individual award, entered politics following his retirement from the sport. His popularity among the citizens, coupled with his promise to create jobs and invest in education, led to his election in 2017. However, critics argue that he has not fulfilled these promises during his first term.
President Weah defends his record, stating that more time is needed to address the nation’s struggling economy and crumbling infrastructure. He passionately believes that his vision for Liberia requires a longer term to come to fruition. While some citizens remain sceptical, others believe in his ability to lead the country towards a brighter future.
The individual who previously participated in athletics is currently the leading candidate among a pool of 20 contenders. However, it is possible that a second-round run-off may be necessary if an absolute majority is not secured during the initial round of voting.
The European Union, the African Union, the West African bloc ECOWAS, and the United States have all deployed observers to monitor the election proceedings.
Approximately 2.4 million Liberians are eligible to cast their votes, with polling stations scheduled to close at 18:00 GMT.
The National Elections Commission will begin releasing results on Wednesday, with the final outcome expected within 15 days.
Weah, who grew up in Monrovia’s slums, is particularly popular among Liberia’s youth, who make up over 60% of the population.
As president, Weah has faced criticism for not doing enough to combat corruption and for refusing to establish a war crimes tribunal. He dismissed his chief of staff and two other senior officials last year after they were accused of corruption by the US.
Weah’s primary opponent, former Vice President Joseph Boakai, has warned that any election fraud or manipulation would have dire consequences for the country. Boakai, who is 78 years old, has pledged to improve infrastructure, restore Liberia’s reputation, and enhance the lives of the poorest citizens.
According to the World Bank, over 20% of Liberia’s population lives on less than $2.15 per day, and the cost of basic food items has skyrocketed.