By Kemo Cham
Liberian President George Weah will have to wait for a second round of voting next month to find out if he will have a second term.
The National Electoral Commission (NEC) of Liberia on Tuesday announced the final results of the October 10th votes, which shows that no candidate got enough votes to be declared winner for the country’s top job.
According to Liberian laws, a president must have 50 percent plus one vote, to be declared winner in the presidential race.
The final tally shows that Weah polled 804, 087 votes, representing 43.83 percent, just ahead of his closest rival, former Vice President Josepf Boakai with 796,961 votes, representing 43.44 percent.
“With the results of the 10th October 2023 polls showing that no presidential ticket obtain 50 percent plus one vote, a runoff of election is hereby declared, to be held on Tuesday, 14 November, 2023 between the two tickets that obtained the highest number of votes – the presidential ticket of the Coalition for Democratic Change led by Mr George Manneh Weah and the presidential ticket of the Unity Party led by Mr Joseph Nyuma Boakai,” said Davidetta Browne Lansanah, Chairperson of the National Electoral Commission of Liberia.
The data from the NEC on Tuesday show that turnout on election day was high, at 79 percent.
“This huge turnout is unprecedented in Liberia’s modern democratic election history,” said Mrs Lansanah, attributing it in part to the use of Biometric registration system of voters.
Both NEC and local and international observers declared the elections largely peaceful, free and fair. But the process was sometimes marred by violence and threat of violence.
Election day itself was marred by issues that ranged from disruption of tally processes, to electoral malpractices by temporary NEC staff. Nine temporary NEC staff were therefore detained, pending trial.
In Nimba, a counting process was disrupted and unidentified individuals making away with ballot boxes.
Consequently, elections for the president, senate of house of representatives were reran there.
A total of 20 candidates vied for the presidency, but the race was mainly between Weah, a football legend, and Mr Boakai.
The 2.4 million registered voters also cast their ballots for 88 lawmakers vying for seats in the House of Representatives (73) and the Senate (15).
The elections were the fourth since the country emerged from civil war in 2003.
Mr Boakai served as vice president of Liberia from 2006 to 2018 under Africa’s first female president, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. He lost the 2017 election to Weah, who back then won a second round with 61.5 percent of the vote to Boakai’s 38.5 percent.
Ahead of the vote, many political analysts had predicted a second round between Weah, 57 and Boakai, 78.
On Tuesday, the electoral commission also announced the results of the rerun votes.
Political campaigns for the run-off were declared open on Tuesday, October 24, to be closed on November 12.