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Liberia: Cost of living and development, big election issues amid voter fatigue

Kumba F., a seller at the West Point Market on Oct. 05, 2023.   -  
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Cleared / AFP


After weeks of mobilization, the electoral campaign ended on October 8 in Liberia. Voters will head to the polls on Tuesday (oct. 10) to cast a ballot in a presidential and legislative elections.

19 candidates are vying to replace President George Weah, who is seeking a second 6-year term.

In a market in Monrovia's West Point area, the cost of living and the economy were the primary concerns for these sellers.

"Business is hard, Kumba said. "When you come to sell, you only earn your daily bread. If you sell all day and you only get 2,000 LD (about 10 USD, ed.), what will you do for your children? Nothing. Things are getting harder and harder, but we can't complain."

"We want roads", Mary S. said. 

"We need roads to get to our hometowns. People want to take their produce to town. I come from Grand Kru, but there's no road. People want to bring plantain, eddoes, but there's no road. We want the road to be paved so that we can go to our hometown."

Inflation was projected to edge to 8.2% due to election-related speculation, according to the AfDB's 2023 African Economic Outlook report.

Some 2.4 million Liberians are registered to vote.

32-year-old Abraham is a tuk-tuk driver, who also works at his mother’s shop doesn't trust politicians.

"They come and tell us that they are going to bring a lot of development and stuff but most of them don't fulfil their promises and they disappoint us and at the end of the day they call us a loud minority. So we just pray to God that we get a good leader, that's all, because most of them lie to use us that they will do this and that and at the end of the day when they are elected they do nothing."

Main rivals to Weah vying for presidency

Joseph Boakai of the Unity Party who lost in the final round of voting in 2017 is seen as his main contender.

He is running on a platform to improve infrastructure, invest in agriculture, attract investors, open up Liberia to tourists and restore the nation's image.

Boakai has struck an alliance with former warlord and senator Prince Johnson, who had backed Weah in 2017, and retains strong support in his home province of Nimba in the north.

Alexander Cummings, 66, has presented himself as a good manager with skills and knowledge from a long career in business that his rivals do not have.

His work especially in the senior ranks of Coca Cola helped build a fortune that has enabled him to finance development projects at home.

He uses a broom as his symbol, promising to clean up the mess left by bad governance and finally put those responsible for the horrors of the 1989-2003 civil war in the dock.

67-year-old Tiawan Gongloe describes his run for the presidency as a "breath of fresh air" on his website.

It's the first time the lawyer is taking his case to the voters, but he is far from a political novice.

Voters will also choose 73 deputies and 15 senators out of the country's 30 at the end of their term of office.

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