Liberia’s National Elections Commission (NEC) has officially set Nov. 14 as the date for a presidential run-off following an initial poll that saw none of the 20 presidential candidates securing the necessary percentage of votes required by the country’s electoral laws to claim outright victory.
Incumbent President George Weah and his closest rival, former vice president Joseph Boakai, leading the opposition, have been called upon to re-engage in a battle of the ballots. The two won 43.83 percent and 43.44 percent of votes respectively in the first round, NEC head Davidetta Lansanah told a briefing Tuesday in the national capital of Monrovia.
The initial round of voting saw a high turnout of 1,949,155 voters, constituting 78.86 percent of the 2,471,617 registered voters, Lansanah noted.
“The huge turnout is unprecedented in Liberia’s modern democratic election history,” Lansanah said, adding that the election also attracted some 10,000 national, regional and international observers accredited by the NEC.
According to Liberia’s election laws, a presidential candidate must secure more than 50 percent of the total votes cast to avoid a run-off.
With the run-off declared by the NEC, Weah, who is the candidate of the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change party, and Boakai are once again entering a contest they were conversant with, as both presidential candidates had headed for a second round of voting in 2017 after an initial poll ended in stalemate.
Weah, who came into office in 2018 with high hopes of transforming Liberia’s economic and political landscape, is seeking a second term to continue his administration’s agenda. He remains popular in certain sectors of the nation, where his successful footballing career and philanthropic work still hold sway.
Meanwhile, Boakai, the candidate leading the opposition, is presenting himself as a seasoned and steady hand, emphasizing his experience and vision for Liberia.