MONROVIA – Liberian election officials began tallying votes on Wednesday from Tuesday’s presidential election, as Liberians awaited results that should usher in the country’s first democratic transfer of power in over seven decades.
Election magistrates, in a soccer stadium outside the capital Monrovia, began compiling vote totals from the country’s 15 counties after Tuesday’s run-off between former soccer star George Weah and Vice President Joseph Boakai.
Weah’s camp said its own tallies based on results from individual polling stations showed him winning with about 70 percent of the vote. Unofficial partial results announced on local radio stations also showed Weah in the lead.
The election commission said people should wait for official counts. A news conference which had been expected to announce early results on Wednesday morning was postponed until the afternoon, with final results due on Thursday.
However, social media users have started celebrating George Weah as the winner of the presidential election :
George Weah has been elected Liberia’s 25th president. The 51 yr old former World Footballer of the Year swept 13 out of the 15 counties with his 73-year-old opponent Joseph Boakai getting only two counties. Congrats legend 👏🏽👏🏽👏🏽 pic.twitter.com/DhxERaZoWB
— Emma Adu-Gyamfi (@iam_adugyamfi) December 27, 2017
Breaking news:Congratulations African legend George Weah is the new President of Liberia what a day from being the only Ballon Dor winner to President pic.twitter.com/TIjcZAZFGZ
— Collins Okinyo (@bedjosessien) December 26, 2017
I congratulate George Weah on his election as the President of Liberia. I thank God for his life and for that of Prophet T.B. Joshua who prayed for him and assured him of victory when he visited him in his Church in Lagos a few weeks back. This is a well deserved victory!
— Femi Fani-Kayode (@realFFK) December 27, 2017
Congratulations to a man who always wanted to lead his people and his NATION!!
Former FIFA World Footballer of the Year & Ballon d'Or winner!!
Congratulations Liberian President!!
George Tawlon Manneh Oppong Ousman Weah.@GeorgeWeahOff
— robertmarawa (@robertmarawa) December 27, 2017
Scoring presidential goal in Liberia: George Weah, 51 year-old ex-footballer, reportedly wins pres elections with majority vote in 12 of the 15 counties, taking over from Liberia's first female head of state, Nobel Peace Prize winner Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. pic.twitter.com/I5C3eODTbo
— James Hall (@hallaboutafrica) December 28, 2017
George Weah, took to social media to thank supporters but did not confirm a win as many attested:
I am deeply grateful to my family, my friends, and my loyal supporters who contributed to our campaign during this extremely long election season. We are on the verge of making history for our people. #Liberia #Liberia2017 #ChangeforHope
— George Weah (@GeorgeWeahOff) December 26, 2017
— George Weah (@GeorgeWeahOff) December 27, 2017
Turnout for Tuesday’s poll seemed low but people in Monrovia expressed relief that the vote had gone smoothly, after a first round in October that several candidates said was marred by fraud.
The Supreme Court ultimately dismissed a legal challenge brought by the third-place finisher and backed by Boakai but the proceedings delayed the second round by over a month.
“The election was free, fair and transparent,” said Kelly Johnson, a 29-year-old trader. “No one was forced to do anything. We went there freely and we voted freely.”
Weah and Boakai are vying to succeed outgoing President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, whose 12-year rule cemented peace in the West African country after civil war ended in 2003.
Many Liberians have criticised Johnson Sirleaf for not doing enough to root out endemic poverty and corruption and are eager for fresh leadership.
Weah, who in 1995 became the first non-European to win European soccer’s player of the year award, is widely considered the favourite, having taken 38.4 percent of the vote to Boakai’s 28.8 percent in the first round.
“It is clear. We are only waiting for the (election commission) to announce the results and declare him president,” Morluba Morlu, Weah’s deputy campaign manager for operations, told Reuters.
“We are calling on… Boakai to concede defeat and congratulate George Weah,” he said.
Officials from Boakai’s ruling Unity Party were not immediately available for comment but at the party headquarters, supporters were more circumspect.
“We are listening to the result that the radio is giving. At least we are satisfied with Lofa County results,” said Jerry Mulbah, referring to Boakai’s home county in northern Liberia, where unofficial results showed him in the lead.