MONROVIA — Former Vice President Joseph Boakai, 79, appears to be on the verge of being Liberia’s next President after a very close contest with incumbent President George Weah, who came to power through a popular vote in 2017.
Boakai served as Vice President under former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf for 12 years, amassing over 40 years of experience in the public sector.
The National Elections Commission released the latest results of the November 14 run-off election on Friday evening, revealing a closely contested race between the two candidates. According to the NEC, President Weah obtained 785,778 votes (49.11%), while Ambassador Boakai as secured 814,212 votes (50.89%) resulting in a difference of 28,434 votes (1.78%).
During his campaign, Boakai promised to rescue Liberia from the Weah administration, which he claimed was marred by mismanagement and corruption. He was, however, criticized for selecting Nimba County Senator Jeremiah Koung who was recommended to him by former warlord Prince Y. Johnson, also a Senator of the vote-rich Nimba County. This choice left many of his supporters wondering on his stance for the establishment of war crimes court.
Weah’s administration suffered a significant blow a year before the election with the United States Department of Treasury imposing sanctions on three top officials. They were found liable for corruption and the substantial diversion of government contracts for personal gain. These officials include the former Minister of State, Nathaniel McGill; the former Managing Director of the National Port Authority, Bill Twehway; and the former Solicitor General, Cllr. Sayma Syrennius Cephas.
The Weah administration faced severe criticism for not taking substantial action to investigate these officials, despite numerous calls from citizens and the United States Embassy in Liberia.
Weah’s administration, however, brags of being developmental-driven and focused more on the construction of community infrastructures and roads as part of his government’s Pro-Poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development (PAPD).