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Liberia President Weah seeks re-election after chaotic first term

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Liberia’s president, George Weah, is seeking more time to deliver progress in the country despite corruption allegations and ongoing hardship. He has done almost 90% of what needs to be done, and is campaigning on building new roads, a timely subject during elections in the rainy season when much of the country’s unpaved routes are cut off from the capital Monrovia by bad weather. Weah, who came to power in 2017 on a wave of popular support after two unsuccessful attempts, has built hospitals and introduced free education in a country still struggling to emerge from two devastating civil wars between 1989 and 2003 and a 2013-16 Ebola epidemic that killed thousands.

However, some voters are disappointed by his failure to improve living standards or tackle corruption and a growing narcotics problem among destitute youths. Last year, Weah fired his chief of staff and two other senior officials after the United States imposed sanctions on them for corruption. In 2018, a Liberian court issued arrest warrants for more than 30 former central bank officials in connection with $104 million that went missing.

Maja Bovcon, senior Africa analyst at risk intelligence company Verisk Maplecroft, said Weah will likely win in the second round because he enjoys the incumbency dividend and his success story as a former football star who rose from poverty has enduring appeal. However, his poor track record in the first term and the loss of support of his key backer, former warlord Prince Yormie Johnson, could cost him votes. The ruling party’s weak performance and reported links to numerous corruption scandals decrease its chance of obtaining a majority in the legislative elections.

SOURCE: REUTERS ( Alphonso Toweh)