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Liberia's tight election spurs run-off expectations

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GUY PETERSON/AFP or licensors

Liberia politics

Liberia's primary opposition candidate, Joseph Boakai, is actively engaging smaller political parties as the nation anticipates a likely run-off against the incumbent, George Weah.

As provisional results from 99.5% of the 5,890 polling stations are revealed, it's evident that the two candidates are in a virtual dead heat following the elections held on October 10. Mr. Weah currently holds 43.8% of the vote, with Mr. Boakai closely trailing at 43.5%. This close contest suggests that neither candidate is poised to secure the required majority of over 50% for an outright victory.

In certain regions of Sinoe, Nimba, and Montserrado counties, voting is being repeated due to allegations of ballot-tampering. Nevertheless, these re-votes are unlikely to substantially influence the overall presidential election outcome, as reported by local media. The election commission also confirmed the arrest of nine temporary staff members in connection with the alleged ballot-tampering.

The election commission has until October 25 to finalize the results. Seeking a second term, George Weah, a former international football star, is keenly waiting for the electoral outcome.

During a press conference, Mr. Boakai called upon fellow opposition candidates to unite as a "rescue team for a resounding victory." He extended an open invitation to "our brothers and sisters in the opposition and Liberians in general," urging them to join the noble mission of revitalizing the nation.

Mr. Boakai previously served as vice-president during the administration of former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, who assumed office following the end of a brutal civil war about two decades ago. He pledged that if elected president, he would establish an "inclusive government that authentically mirrors the political, social, and religious diversity of the citizens."

Among the 18 other candidates, none secured more than 3% of the vote. In a statement on Monday, one of the smaller candidates, Alexander Cummings, refrained from explicitly declaring support for Mr. Boakai in the likely run-off but emphasized that the "Liberian people want change."

In the 2017 run-off election, President Weah claimed victory with 61.5% of the vote, defeating Mr. Boakai, who secured 38.5%. Notably, in the initial round of that election, President Weah garnered 38.4% of the vote compared to Mr. Boakai's 28.8%, indicating that Mr. Boakai has fared better in the recent poll.

President Weah has yet to comment on the provisional results, but his ruling Coalition for Democratic Change had previously pledged to accept the final results.