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Liberia

Boost for opposition alliance as Weah faces run-off

The President's hopes of an easy victory have been scuppered by a razor-thin margin in the first round of voting

A run-off appears to be inevitable. President George Weah and opposition leader Joseph Boakai were on 43.80% of the vote and 43.54% respectively, according to tallied results from 72.92% of polling stations in the 10 October polls released by the electoral commission. It is inconceivable that either will clear the 50% winning threshold.

The second round will be held on 7 November.

The race is much tighter than in 2017, when Weah won the first round with 38.4% of the vote ahead of Boakai's 28.8% before going on to win the run-off by a 61.5%-38.5% margin. That represents a major setback for Weah's camp, which had been expecting an easy victory as recently as several months ago.

Ahead of the first round, the alliance of Boakai and Prince Yormie Johnson contended that they had the numbers to beat Weah in a run-off. They had also accused Weah of manipulating the electoral commission and other state institutions to ensure a first round victory (Dispatches, 11/10/23 Clashes mar run-up to national elections).

United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken had warned that officials suspected of rigging or manipulating the polls or of election violence would face travel bans.

Voting was peaceful and well-managed, according to international observers.

However, the electoral commission, which has been widely criticised for a perceived lack of transparency in administering the polls, is still under close scrutiny from international election observers from the European Union, United States and Economic Community of West African States, and others.

In a statement on 15 October, Ecowas said that it was aware of 'attempts by some Liberian stakeholders to declare premature victories or put undue pressure on the National Elections Commission'.



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