Sports

Former football ace George Weah is new president of Liberia

Former football ace George Weah is new president of Liberia

In a Facebook post President Akufo-Addo wrote, "Warm congratulations to George Oppong Weah on his decisive victory in Liberia's peaceful presidential run-off, thus becoming the next President of the Republic of Liberia". His opponent, current vice president Joseph Boakai, only obtained 38.5 percent of the votes so far.

With 98 percent of votes counted, Weah has the majority of support in Tuesday's runoff. But the incumbent Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, a Nobel Prize victor and the country's first elected female president, has overseen years of peace and stability since she took office in January 2006.

Weah, 51, won the polls with 61.5% of votes and will be sworn in on January 16 2018 when president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf's term expires. A news conference which had been expected to announce early results on Wednesday morning was postponed until the afternoon, with final results due on Thursday.

Election magistrates, in a soccer stadium outside the capital Monrovia, began compiling vote totals from the country's 15 counties after Tuesday's run-off between between former soccer star George Weah and Vice President Joseph Boakai.

Turnout for the second round stood at 56 percent, National Election Commission (NEC) Chairman Jerome Korkoyah told reporters in Monrovia.

Weah led the first round of voting on October 10 but didn't get enough votes to win outright.

Younger voters overwhelmingly favour Weah, who is idolised in his country as "Mister George".

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But Mr Weah's election is not without controversy, as his running mate is Jewel Taylor, former wife of the warlord and ex-President Charles Taylor, who is serving a jail sentence in the United Kingdom for war crimes.

"Since years of civil war this is the first time we see the transition of power from one person to another", voter Oscar Sorbah told AFP.

He entered politics after his retirement from the game in 2002 and is now a senator in Liberia's parliament.

The Supreme Court ultimately dismissed a legal challenge brought by the third-place finisher and backed by Boakai but the proceedings delayed the second round by more than a month. She is the ex-wife of imprisoned former warlord and President Charles Taylor, which raised concerns among some Liberians.

"The election was free, fair and transparent", said Kelly Johnson, a 29-year-old trader.

"I think Weah is not fit for the work".

The first African player to win both FIFA's World Player of the Year trophy and the Ballon d'Or, Weah was largely absent from Liberia during the 1989-2003 civil war period, playing for a string of top-flight European teams including Paris Saint-Germain and AC Milan.