George Weah, 1995 FIFA’s Player of the year and Ballon d’Or winner, is awaiting the official result of the Liberian presidential elections as he vies to replace the current head of state Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.
The former AC Milan, Paris Saint-Germain and Olympique de Marseille striker needs to achieve at least 50 percent of the votes to be declared the winner.
Liberia’s electoral body has until October 25 to declare a winner or to announce a run-off.
Despite reports, Weah not a winner yet
Several reports have claimed that George Weah has already been declared winner of the elections. However, Liberia’s National Elections Commission (NEC) has not totalled the figures yet.
According to NEC, preliminary results, which are expected for today, Thursday, have been delayed by several glitches at some polling stations.
If no candidate achieves the necessary 50 percent of the votes, a run-off between the top two contenders will be held on November 7.
According to Al Jazeera, a second round seems likely, since unofficial reports from the Liberia Broadcast System suggest Weah, of the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) and current Vice President Joseph Boakai, of the ruling Unity Party (UP), are leading.
Weah’s political career
Regarded as one of the greatest African footballers of all time, Weah first announced his intentions to run for president in the 2005 elections. That year, he reached the run-off but lost to the current president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.
In 2011, after a series of failed alliances, Weah was chosen as vice presidential candidate for Winston Tubman, who challenged Sirleaf but failed to reach the position.
On 20 December 2014, Weah was overwhelmingly elected to the Liberian Senate for the Monteserrado County. He defeated Robert Sirleaf, son of President Sirleaf.
A member of his current presidential campaign was quoted by Nigerian website Gistreel as saying:
“George feels good and very keen. People everywhere tell him they want to see change.
“He stood for election in 2005, and then they said he lacked experience, but the fact he is now a senator plays a big role.
“His former football career helps him a lot. It reminds Liberians of a lot of good things.”
President Sirleaf has held the role for 12 years, the maximum time allowed by Liberian Constitution.
Wenger congratulates Weah
Despite the fact that the results are yet to be announced, Arsenal’s coach, Arsene Wenger, congratulated Weah for the winning the elections.
Wenger coached the 51-year-old footballer-turned politician between 1988 and 1992 with the Frenchman being the one who discovered Weah.
“I would like to congratulate one of my former players, who became president of Liberia, George Weah,” said Wenger in a press conference.
“It is not often that you have a former player who becomes a president of a country and so well done Georgie and I would say just for him to keep his enthusiasm and his desire to learn and to win.”
According to a report by the BBC, during the press conference Wenger’s eyes were glinting as he spoke, with what was clearly almost uncontained excitement and a genuine congratulatory feel.
About 2.2 million Liberians, slightly less than half of the country’s population, registered to vote. Aside from presidential elections, 73 members of the House of Representatives will also be chosen.