Liberia's Football Superstar President Runs For Re-election

Liberia's football superstar president runs for re-election

Monrovia, (APP - UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News - 10th Oct, 2023) Liberians vote Tuesday on whether to give football legend George Weah a second term as president, with peace among voters' main concerns in a nation still scarred by back-to-back civil wars.

The main political parties have pledged that the presidential and legislative elections in the West African country will pass off peacefully.

But the recent killing of three people in clashes between their supporters has fuelled fears of a return to violence.

Trouble also marred the close of Weah's re-election campaign Sunday, with his supporters and opposition members throwing stones at each other and police intervening with tear gas.

AFP counted at least five men with injuries, some with large gashes on their heads.

"What we expect most is peace," said Melvine Zoega, 37, among a group of men discussing their concerns in the city of Buchanan, 150 kilometres (90 miles) east of the capital Monrovia.

Healthcare, education and roads, jobs and the cost of living all came up, but only after fears of a return to violence.

Between 1989 and 2003, the conflicts in Liberia left more than 250,000 people dead.

Incumbent Weah, 57, who won the 2017 elections, faces 19 presidential candidates and a likely second-round runoff in early November. But he has campaigned on the slogan "One round victory".

"We must all cherish this peace and continue to preserve it, because without peace, our world will be difficult," Weah told thousands of people gathered in Monrovia Sunday.

"Without peace, development will not take place."

The former international footballer came to power promising to create jobs and invest in education, but critics say he has failed to keep his pledges.

The authorities have vowed to track down troublemakers and the National Electoral Commission is seeking to reassure people it can organise fair and credible polls.

"Everything's ready... We anticipate that all should go well," said commission chairperson Davidetta Browne-Lansanah.

This election is the first held since the United Nations ended its peacekeeping mission in Liberia in 2018.

The European Union, the African Union, the West African bloc, ECOWAS, and the United States have deployed observers, in a region hit by a string of recent coups.