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Liberia’s soccer star, George Weah, wins presidential election

Surrounded by security, Liberia’s president-elect George Weah and vice president-elect Jewel Howard Taylor wave to cheering supporters.

LONDON, UK -With more than 720,013 votes (61.5%), Liberia’s and Africa’s most celebrated soccer legend, George Tawlon Manneh Oppong Ousman Weah has become Liberia’s president-elect, defeating incumbent vice president and one of Liberia’s most revered public servants, Joseph Nyumah Boakai, who won 451,088 votes (38.5 %) of the total vote count.

Weah, born October 1, 1966, is currently a senator from Montserrado County, the most populated region of the country.  More Liberians see Weah as very patriotic and committed to Liberia.  Born and raised in the slums, Weah rose to become a millionaire playing world soccer in Europe.  He used his wealth to help Liberian refugees and institutions such as the Liberia Football Association.  He also provided scholarships to many Liberian students at various institutions.

Weah comes to the Liberian presidency as a wealthy man.  He made millions himself and has a vast network of properties. His two older sons have signed million dollar soccer contracts in Europe.

Some political commentators say Weah is good for Liberia and he is likely to succeed if he focuses on job creation and infrastructure development.   Jobs, in particular, remains a serious problem in Africa and Weah’s success will definitely hinge on that.  Yet, some are doubtful, saying they do not see much-needed changes coming soon considering that many of the same people who damaged the country’s economy are now floating to become a part of the new government.

Others believe Weah needs to bring on a new set of cabinet ministers who have never served in previous corrupt regimes.  With a focus on job creation, national security, reconciliation, and infrastructure development, Weah stands to become the best president in modern Liberian history.

A prominent striker during his soccer career, Weah is considered as one of Africa’s player of all-time. In 1995 he was named FIFA World Player of the Year and won the Ballon d’Or, becoming the first and to date the only African to win these awards.

Also, considered an idol in Africa, Weah became forcefully involved in Liberian politics, his homeland, following his retirement from football. He ran unsuccessfully for President in the 2005 election (in which he was allegedly cheated), losing to incumbent president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf in the second round of voting. In the country’s 2014 election, he ran for Vice President to Harvard’s trained Winston Tubman’s ticket.

In 2014, Weah won a senatorial seat for Montserrado County as a candidate of the Congress for Democratic Change (CDC). With patience and determination, Weah was elected President of Liberia on December 26, 2017, election against the incumbent Vice President Joseph Nyumah Boakai.

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Michael Harrington

Michael Harrington is a researcher and senior contributing reporter with Globe Afrique Media.
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