The people vie for the presidency of Liberia on October 10 | Election news

by MMC
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Monrovia, Liberia
– On Tuesday, more than 2.4 million Liberians will go to the polls to elect a president and members of their legislature. Currently, 19 candidates are hoping to replace outgoing President George Weah of the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC), who is seeking a second six-year term.

The two main challengers are former vice president Joseph Nyuma Boakai and businessman Alexander Cummings. The two men were previously part of an alliance of four opposition parties, the Coalition of Political Parties (CPP). However, despite early successes, the coalition has since disbanded after disagreements over who will get the presidential ticket this election cycle.

Also running is Tiawan Gongloe of the Liberian People’s Party, a renowned human rights lawyer and law professor who served as the country’s solicitor general during the Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf administration.

The former president became Africa’s first elected female leader in 2006, but political inclusion remains a mirage in many parts of the continent, including in her native Liberia. Only two of the 20 candidates in Tuesday’s presidential vote are women, including Sara Nyanti, former deputy special representative of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan.

George Weah

Weah, who is seeking a second term, boasted that he would achieve victory in the first round of elections. He has been in office since 2017.

The CDC’s Weah kept the current vice president, Jewel Howard-Taylor, as his running mate. Howard-Taylor is the ex-wife of former President Charles Taylor who is serving a 50-year prison sentence for crimes against humanity committed in a British prison in neighboring Sierra Leone.

Weah, 57, said his performance would be enough to secure his re-election. He considers a success a free tuition program for undergraduates at public universities that was instituted in 2018. Weah’s government also pays for the West African Secondary School Certificate examination fees (WASSCE) for 9th and 12th grade students in public schools.

Additionally, the government improved access to electricity and reduced costs from 38 cents per kilowatt to an average of 15 cents per kilowatt. The administration has also embarked on several road construction projects across the country.

Despite this, critics say corruption was widespread under Weah. They also point to the state of the economy and rising food prices that led to protests in December last year and June 2019 as indicative of the government’s failure.

In his manifesto, Weah promised to reduce out-of-pocket payments for medical costs through a compulsory health insurance scheme and also promised to provide off-grid solar power to public hospitals and secondary schools.

He also promised to create sustainable jobs by formalizing artisanal and small-scale mining activities and providing training for prosecutors on sexual and gender-based violence.

Joseph Boakaï

With several decades of experience in the Liberian public sector, Boakai enjoys great notoriety and is now aiming for the presidency, under the aegis of the Unity Party (UP). This 78-year-old was Minister of Agriculture from 1983 to 1985. He was also vice-president from 2006 to 2018 of Johnson-Sirleaf.

This year, Boakai is part of an alliance with the Movement for Democracy and Reconstruction (MDR), founded by former warlord turned senator Prince Johnson. Boakai therefore chose MDR senator Jérémie Koung as his running mate.

Johnson and Koung hail from and wield significant influence in Nimba, the country’s second most populous county. The MDR had already entered into an alliance with the CDC in 2017, supporting it in the runoff elections that Weah ultimately won. The alliance disbanded in 2022 amid complaints from Johnson about a lack of job opportunities for “his people”.

For many, Boakai’s second attempt at the presidency is a rematch with Weah after the two men faced off in 2017. Both men advanced to a runoff after neither reached the absolute majority required to win the presidency. victory in the first round, Weah finally won.

Drawing on his experience, Boakai made agriculture a key theme of his campaign, pledging to increase domestic rice production and create three agricultural machinery hubs in the country.

He also promised to pave highways connecting county capitals and those linking Liberia to other countries, to improve cross-border trade.

The former vice president also promised to work with the legislature to create a specialized court to expedite cases of corruption and economic crimes and to support the private sector in developing solid waste recycling programs to produce renewable energy.

However, critics said that at 78, Boakai was too old to govern. Boakai has also been accused of health problems, which he has denied.

Alexander Cummings

Alexander Cummings first rose to prominence on the Liberian political scene when he ran for president in 2017 and placed fifth. This year, he is running on the platform of the Collaborator Political Party (CPP), a coalition between Cumming’s Alternative National Congress and the Freedom Party.

Cummings, 57, was director of Coca-Cola’s African subsidiary between 2001 and 2008 and global chief administrative officer from 2008 until his retirement in 2016.

In his role at Coca-Cola, he oversaw the creation of its Africa Foundation which contributed to the continental response to the spread of HIV/AIDS. In 2011, Johnson-Sirleaf awarded him Liberia’s highest national honor – the Humanitarian Order of African Redemption – for his humanitarian work.

Cummings focused his campaign on diversifying Liberia’s economy. To that end, he has promised to create a $20 million empowerment fund to support women- and youth-owned businesses as well as farmers during his first 100 days in office if he wins, while freezing all current taxes and regulations to be reviewed in order to create a business-friendly environment. He also spoke of a “buy Liberian” policy that would prioritize the purchase of locally made products to boost indigenous businesses.

Finally, he expressed support for the creation of a war crimes tribunal to prosecute key figures from the 1989 to 1997 and 1999 to 2003 civil wars.

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