Liberia goes to the polls for the presidential and parliamentary elections on Tuesday at 08:00 GMT. Twenty presidential candidates, together with incumbent George Weah, are competing to guide the nation of 5 million.
Weah, a former worldwide soccer star, rode to victory on a wave of optimism in 2017, bringing hope to a rustic that had been devastated by two back-to-back civil wars between 1989 and 2003, and the Ebola epidemic of 2014-2016. His election was an historic occasion, marking the nation’s first democratic switch to energy since 1944. He promised to deal with poverty, create jobs, construct roads and finish corruption.
Practically 5 years after he took workplace in 2018, the previous Ballon d’Or winner stays fashionable in some elements of the nation, however anger is rising over persistently excessive ranges of corruption and the price of residing.
Right here’s what you must know in regards to the Liberian election:
Will the elections be peaceable?
In a rustic nonetheless recovering from two wars that killed 1 / 4 of 1,000,000 individuals, the specter of violence isn’t removed from the minds of voters. Previous fears have been stoked final month after three killings throughout election marketing campaign clashes within the northern Lofa county.
The incident concerned supporters of Weah’s Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) and the Unity Social gathering. The latter celebration is led by Joseph Boakai, who served as vp within the earlier administration of Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and is taken into account Weah’s important rival within the presidential vote.
In August, Weah’s supporters carried a coffin by Monrovia, with pictures of Boakai’s face plastered on the edges, frightening anger and a resurgence of grief. The ruling celebration was reportedly reticent about condemning the spectacle.
All events vying within the polls – 46 have been accredited by the Nationwide Elections Fee – pledged in April to chorus from violence within the so-called Farmington River Declaration, drafted beneath the aegis of the United Nations and the Financial Neighborhood of West African States (ECOWAS).
The elections occur to happen on the twentieth anniversary of the 2003 Accra Peace Settlement, which ended the second Liberian civil battle.
What are the primary points voters are taking a look at?
Corruption: Liberia is ranked 142 out of 180 international locations on Transparency Worldwide’s corruption perceptions index. Weah, who spent a lot of his first electoral marketing campaign criticising Sirleaf’s failure to deal with corruption, has not carried out a lot better.
Final yr, the US slapped sanctions on three Liberian authorities officers, together with Weah’s chief of workers, for participating in corrupt practices. In April, Washington’s outgoing ambassador accused politicians of “buttering their very own bread” and “feathering their very own nests”.
Poverty: In December 2022, locals took to the streets of Monrovia to protest about rising meals and gas costs throughout Weah’s extended absence from the nation. The president had been watching his son, Timothy Weah, enjoying the US staff on the World Cup in Qatar.
He additionally attended a US-Africa chief’s summit in Washington. In keeping with the World Financial institution, greater than half of the inhabitants lives on lower than $1.90 a day. Half 1,000,000 confronted “acute ranges” of meals insecurity this yr, with costs of staples like imported rice, palm oil and cassava on the rise – partly owing to the battle in Ukraine.
Regardless of having a wealth of pure sources, akin to rubber, timber, iron, diamond and gold, Liberia ranks 178 out of 191 international locations on the UN’s Human Improvement Index.
Accountability: Former president and strongman Charles Taylor was convicted by a global tribunal at The Hague, and is now serving a 50-year sentence in Britain, however there was no signal of justice at dwelling.
Regardless of the suggestions of a Reality and Reconciliation Fee (TRC) in 2009, many battle criminals stroll free. Senator Prince Johnson, a former strongman whose fighters raped and killed, isn’t solely free however once more working for workplace.
Johnson was additionally concerned within the killing of former president Samuel Doe in 1990 – a video of him watching Doe’s ear being sliced off went viral on the web. Near Joseph Boakai, Johnson’s recognition in Nimba county makes him an asset to any would-be president.
Who’re the primary presidential candidates?
George Weah: The younger and the poor have been as soon as impressed by the previous footballer’s rags-to-riches story, which noticed him rise from humble beginnings in Monrovia’s Clara City slum.
The 57-year-old’s recognition has waned, although he’s anticipated to do nicely in locations like Bong nation, a stronghold of Vice President Jewel Howard-Taylor. His alliance with the ex-wife of Charles Taylor raised eyebrows in 2017, however has since been normalised.
Joseph Boakai: Generally known as “Sleepy Joe” for allegedly napping at public occasions, the 78-year-old from Lofa county served as vp between 2006 and 2018. Gentle-mannered, however decided, he harvested latex for American rubber large Firestone Plantation, working as a janitor whereas learning on the School of West Africa.
By the 80s, he had labored his method up into politics, serving as agriculture minister beneath President Samuel Doe, who was murdered in 1990, a decade after attaining energy in a bloody coup.
Alexander B Cummings: A former Coca-Cola government, the chief of the Various Nationwide Congress joined forces with the Liberty Social gathering in an try to rally the opposition beneath the banner of the opposition Collaborating Political Events (CPP).
Having did not persuade voters in 2017, the 66-year-old hopes to make use of his a long time of expertise in enterprise and philanthropy to elevate the nation out of poverty. Targeted on financial development, he has a progressive agenda in areas like enterprise financing, ladies’s illustration and eco-tourism.