World News

Liberia election: Soccer legend likely to win presidency

Posted December 28, 2017 1:48 p.m. EST
Updated December 28, 2017 3:49 p.m. EST

— Former soccer star George Weah is set to win the December 26 presidential election runoff in Liberia.

On Thursday, with more than 98% of the votes counted, Weah led his opponent Vice President Joseph Boakai of the Unity Party 61.5% to 38.5%, according to the National Elections Commission (NEC).

Weah, the candidate for the Coalition of Democratic Change, won the first round of the election in October with 38.4% while Boakai netted 28.8%, according to the commission.

NEC Chairman Jerome Korkoya said in a press conference Thursday that the final election results would "hopefully" be announced on Friday.

Some Liberians took to the streets, chanting victoriously and dancing.

"We started the struggle and we are about to end the struggle in 2017," Nablah Washington, a Weah supporter, told Reuters.

"That is on December 26, we went to the ballot box and today we are seeing results and results that are coming out of all the 15 counties, they are communicating to us and showing us the road of victory," Washington said. "That is why we are rejoicing."

Since neither candidate earned more than 50% of the vote in October, a runoff was scheduled for November 7. But that vote was delayed when claims of fraud and "gross irregularities" were filed by Boakai's party. The complaints were dismissed.

The West African nation of 4.6 million people has been ravaged by civil war, the Ebola virus and corruption and hasn't had a democratic transfer of power since 1944. But the incumbent Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, a Nobel Prize winner and the country's first elected female president, has overseen years of peace and stability since she took office in January 2006.