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A look at some key presidential candidates in Liberia’s two-horse presidential race

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Liberia
Liberia

Liberia is set to hold a general election Tuesday to elect the president and national legislature members.

The presidential election is a two-horse race featuring candidates of the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) party and the Unity Party (UP).

Twenty presidential candidates will be contesting in the election.

A total of 2,471,617 voters out of Liberia’s population of 5.4 million are expected to cast their ballots. The polls will be conducted across 5,890 polling places in the 2,080 voting precincts identified by the National Election Commission.

Although there is no clear favorite among them, below are the profiles of the two major candidates contesting in the presidential election.

George Weah:

George Oppong Weah, the incumbent president of Liberia, is seeking to be re-elected on the platform of the CDC. A former international football superstar, the Liberian leader transitioned seamlessly from the soccer field to the political arena when he first announced his intention to run for president of Liberia in the 2005 elections but lost the contest to Ellen Johnson Sirleaf in the second round of voting.

Born on Oct. 1, 1966, Weah’s humble beginnings stand in stark contrast to his later achievements.

In his football career that took him to prominent clubs in Europe, where he earned acclaim for his exceptional skills, he was regarded as one of the greatest African soccer stars of all time.

Weah was named FIFA World Player of the Year in 1995. That same year, he won the prestigious Ballon d’Or, becoming the first African player to win these awards. In 1996, he was named African Player of the Century, having earlier won the African Footballer of the Year title in 1989, 1994 and 1995.

In 2011, he ran for vice president on Winston Tubman’s ticket during the presidential election in Liberia. Three years later, he ran as a senatorial candidate on the platform of the now-defunct Congress for Democratic Change party and won, representing Liberia’s Montserrado County.

He left the Liberian senate in 2017 after winning the presidential race with Jewel Howard-Taylor, his running mate, with whom he is seeking re-election. During his six-year presidency, Weah has focused on economic development, education, and healthcare.

While implementing infrastructure projects and seeking to attract foreign investment to boost the country’s economy, Weah has faced criticism for an alleged slow pace of progress in addressing Liberia’s deep-rooted issues, including corruption and poverty. His administration is under scrutiny to deliver on campaign promises.

Joseph Boakai:

Joseph Nyumah Boakai, born on Nov. 30, 1944, boasts a long and distinguished career in public service.

He served as vice president of Liberia under the leadership of former president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf from 2006 to 2018.

He was the presidential candidate of the UP during the 2017 general elections.

Between 1983 and 1985, Boakai served as minister of agriculture in the country and chaired boards of over 20 agricultural development projects, the Agricultural Cooperative Development Bank, and support institutions.

He also served as resident manager of the Liberia Produce Marketing Corporation and managing director of the Liberia Petroleum Refinery Company.

Boakai’s campaign focuses on issues such as good governance, poverty reduction, and social justice.

He emphasizes the need to address corruption and strengthen institutions for a more prosperous Liberia.

His critics say he must navigate the political terrain and overcome the perception of being part of the previous administration, which has faced criticism over alleged corruption and inadequate economic growth.

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