Liberia election campaign begins as Weah seeks re-election

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Campaigning for Liberia’s presidential and legislative elections kicked off on Saturday, with incumbent George Weah seeking a second six-year term in a country engulfed by huge economic challenges.

High hopes greeted the 2017 election of former football star Weah in the West African nation, which was recovering from an Ebola epidemic and left scarred by civil wars between 1989 and 2003.

The 56-year-old announced in January that he would run again in the October 10 vote, where he will face 19 rivals including former vice president Joseph Boakai, businessman Alexander Cummings and human rights lawyer Taiwan Gongloe.

Liberia’s National Elections Commission (NEC) has accredited 46 parties for the polls and more than 2.4 million voters are registered.

In a statement read out on national radio, the NEC officially announced campaigning opened on Saturday and would continue until midnight on October 8.

NEC chair Davidetta Browne Lansanah called on Liberians to “go into the political campaign peacefully”.

To win, a candidate must garner at least 50 percent plus one of the votes cast.

If no party reaches that threshold, the two parties with the most votes in the first round proceed to a run-off election which is won by a simple majority.

The West African nation of around five million people had barely begun recovering from the coronavirus pandemic when the fallout from the war in Ukraine battered its economy.

Around half of Liberians live on less than $1.90 per day, according to the World Bank.

Weah came to power promising to create jobs and invest in education, but critics say he has failed to keep his pledges.

©️ Agence France-Presse

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