Boakai Courts Smaller Parties

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– As run-off Presidential Election Looms Liberia’s main opposition candidate Joseph Boakai is courting smaller parties ahead of a likely run-off against incumbent George Weah. Provisional results from 99.5% of the 5,890 polling stations show that the two candidates remain neck and neck following elections on 10 October. Mr. Weah currently has 43.8% of the vote with MrBoakai on 43.5%. This suggests that neither candidate will get the more than 50% of the vote needed for victory. Voting is being repeated in parts of Sinoe, Nimba and Montserrado Counties following allegations of ballot-tampering, but not in enough areas to significantly affect the overall presidential tally, local media report has indicated. The election commission said nine of its temporary staff has been arrested over the alleged ballot-tampering. The election commission has until 25 October to release final results. Mr. Weah, a former international football star, is seeking a second term. In a press conference, Mr. Boakai urged fellow opposition candidates to join the “rescue team for a resounding victory.” “We are reaching out to our brothers and sisters in the opposition and Liberians in general to join us in this noble mission of making our country breathe freely again,” he added. Mr. Boakai served as vice-president in the government of then-President Ellen Johnson Sieleaf, who took office after the end of a brutal civil war about 20 years ago. He pledged that if he was elected president, he would form a “government of inclusion that truly reflects the political, social and religious diversity of the citizens.” None of the 18 other candidates received more than 3% of the vote. In a statement on Monday, one of the smaller candidates, Alexander Cummings, did not say if he would support Mr. Boakai in a likely run-off but said “Liberian people want change.” In the 2017 run-off, Mr. Weah beat Mr. Boakai by 61.5% to 38.5% of the vote. The president got the most votes in the first round of that election – 38.4% to Mr. Boakai’s 28.8%, suggesting that Mr. Boakai fared much better in last week’s poll. President Weah is yet to comment on the provisional results but his ruling Coalition for Democratic Change had earlier pledged to accept the final results.  By: Wycliffe Muia/ BBC News

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