Former football star George Manneh Weah has won Liberia’s presidential runoff election by over 60% of the vote to succeed Africa’s first democratically elected female president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.
Senator Weah won by 61.5% beating Vice President Joseph Boakai who garnered 38.5% votes out of the 98.1% votes counted, National Elections Commission Chairman Jerome Korkoyah announced on Thursday evening in the capital Monrovia.
Another W for George Weah pic.twitter.com/OBFy3HoCHH
— B/R Football (@brfootball) December 28, 2017
He will be sworn in as president in January, marking the country’s first democratic transition in over 70 years. George Weah who led in the first round with 38.4% of the vote could not hold back his tears as hundreds of supporters cheered.
“My fellow Liberians, I deeply feel the emotion of all the nation. I measure the importance and the responsibility of the immense task which I embrace today. Change is on,” he said at his party’s headquarters.
My fellow Liberians, I deeply feel the emotion of all the nation. I measure the importance and the responsibility of the immense task which I embrace today. Change is on.
— George Weah (@GeorgeWeahOff) December 28, 2017
He contested the election under the ticket of the Congress For Democratic Change (CDC) with a controversial running mate Jewel Howard-Taylor, who is the former wife of jailed warlord and ex-president of Liberia Charles Taylor.
There was low turnout in Tuesday’s election compared to the first round which recorded 74.52%. The National Elections Commission said only 56% voter turnout was recorded.
George Weah had a successful career as a footballer which started from his country before moving to Europe where he played for Monaco, Paris Saint-Germain, Milan, Chelsea and Marseille among others before his retirement in 2003. He also played for the Liberian national team which he coached and funded on various occasions.
Weah has won several international and continental awards including the African Footballer of the Year Award on multiple times. He is the only African footballer to have won both Fifa World Player of the Year and the Ballon d’Or.
?? George Weah:
??? African Player of The Year
?? Serie A
? Ligue 1
? FA Cup
? Ballon d’Or
✅ Elected President of Liberia
Inspiring Journey ?? pic.twitter.com/j0qNeFwl5v
— SPORF (@Sporf) December 27, 2017
The 51-year-old went into active politics as a candidate in the 2005 presidential election which he lost to Ellen Johnson Sirleaf in the second round of voting. In 2011, he joined the race again as a vice-presidential candidate on the ticket of Winston Tubman but failed. Weah was later elected as a Senator in 2014.
Below are some congratulatory messages from around the world to the former football star.
President-elect Weah’s victory is a triumph of democracy. Kenya will stand with Liberia, for we believe that Pan-African cooperation will win every African the prosperity and freedom they deserve. I look forward to working with President Weah in the service of those ideals.
— Uhuru Kenyatta (@UKenyatta) December 28, 2017
Man Who I Saw Score Against Gillingham Becomes President of Liberia feels like a The Day Today headline. But it’s actually true. #GeorgeWeah
— David Baddiel (@Baddiel) December 28, 2017
I congratulate the President-Elect of Liberia, George Weah. I salute his courage and resilience. He is such an inspiration to the youths of Africa. I urge INEC to learn from what happened in Liberia and allow the will of the people to prevail in 2018 and 2019 elections.
— Peter Ayodele Fayose (@GovAyoFayose) December 27, 2017
Th power of free & fair elections! Little Liberia, a country of only 4.6 million people postponed voting deliberately 2 streamline their electoral commission, & a man with a story to tell (the embodiment of hard work & determination) has won! Congratulations President George Weah pic.twitter.com/e3LRHRD7Nr
— Boni Khalwale (@KBonimtetezi) December 27, 2017
In 1980, America elected an actor as President. In 2017, Liberia elected a footballer as President. Never think that your background is unsuited for politics. Aspire to lead and believe that all you need to be a good leader is the ability to keep learning. Congrats George Weah!
— Ben Murray-Bruce (@benmurraybruce) December 28, 2017