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George Weah: ex-footballer who could be Liberia's next leader

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George Weah: ex-footballer who could be Liberia's next leader

George Weah: ex-footballer who could be Liberia's next leader

SEYLLOU

AFP

Weah emerged from Liberia's slums to become a superstar footballer in the 90s, and has leveraged his status as a revered figure among the country's young and poor in his second run for the presidency.

Former AS Monaco, AC Milan and PSG star George Weah will face Vice President Joseph Boakai on December 26 in a presidential run-off, the culmination of 12 years spent building political credibility to match his huge popularity.

"You know I've been in competitions -- tough ones too and I came out victorious. So I know Boakai cannot defeat me," Weah said ahead of the vote. "I have the people on my side."

The first African player to win both FIFA's World Player of the Year trophy and the Ballon d'Or, Weah was largely absent from Liberia during the 1989-2003 civil war period, playing for a string of top-flight European teams including Paris Saint-Germain and AC Milan.

Liberian presidential candidate and ex-football international George Weah (C) walks flanekd by security personnel outside his house in Monrovia on December 23, 2017.

After running unsuccessfully for the presidency in 2005, when he was defeated by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Weah says he has "gained experience" since becoming a senator in 2014.

Second time lucky?

Another fruitless run for the vice-presidency on the ticket of presidential candidate Winston Tubman in 2011 brought him to further prominence among the nation's voters, many of whom say this time it is "Weah's turn".

Campaign poster of George Weah, presidential candidate the opposition Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC)

Weah, 51, has put education, job creation and infrastructure at the centre of his platform -- in line with Boakai -- and won 38.4 percent of votes in the first round election on October 10, while Boakai came second with 28.8 percent.

Younger voters overwhelmingly favour Weah, who is idolised in his country as "Mister George".

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