World

Soccer star George Weah wins Liberian presidential election

MONROVIA, LIBERIA: Former football star George Weah has defeated Vice-President Joseph Boakai to win Liberia's presidential run-off election and succeed incumbent Ellen Johnson Sirleaf next month, in the country's first democratic transition in over 70 years.

With 98.1 per cent of the vote counted, Mr Weah led with 61.5 per cent to Mr Boakai's 38.5 per cent, National Election Commission Chairman Jerome Korkoyah said.

At his party headquarters outside Monrovia, tears streamed down Mr Weah's face as he greeted supporters. Outside, young fans ran through the streets and blared car horns as dusk fell over the city.

"Success for George Weah is victory for the whole country," Mr Randall Zarkpah, a 47-year-old engineer, said.

"When you feel sick for some time and you receive proper medication - that is how I feel now."

Mr Weah grew up in a slum in Monrovia and went on to become the only African to win Fifa World Player of the Year, starring for AC Milan, Paris St Germain and Chelsea.

His rags-to-riches story helped him tap into the dissatisfaction with Ms Johnson's 12-year tenure. She drew a line under years of civil war but drew criticism for failing to root out corruption or persistent poverty.

But Mr Weah's critics say he has offered few concrete policy proposals.

His choice of running mate, Ms Jewel Howard-Taylor - ex-wife of Charles Taylor, former president serving 50 years in Britain for war crimes in Sierra Leone - has also raised eyebrows.- REUTERS

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