CountryFact CheckLiberiaPolitics

False! President Weah did not win 78% of votes in 2017 election

‘I had 78% of the popular votes of the Liberian people’ – Weah

According to the Liberian National Elections Commission (NEC) data in the 2017 Presidential election, candidate Weah won 61.54% of the votes during the run-off. 

Full text

With just a year to go for the next Liberian elections, parties and candidates have switched into campaign mood, promising to fulfil old pledges and make new ones.

One such candidate is President George Weah.

In a video that has already gone viral, George Weah is heard claiming to have won 78% of the popular votes of the Liberian people during the 2017 Presidential election in Liberia.

The Liberian leader’s comment is contained in a viral video circulating on social media under a Facebook name Under The Palava Hut.

He is addressing scores of Liberians at a programme.

According to President Weah, he said: “I have a price here. We went to elections; remember, I had 78% of the popular votes of the Liberian people. Those with 1%, 1.5%, 0.6% etc, do not tell me anything that will discourage me from doing my work.”

The statement is made at precisely 0:22 seconds to 0:50 seconds of the video. 

President Weah’s assertions are a direct jab at his critics within the opposition community, suggesting that candidates with such insignificant electoral votes do not have the mandate to direct him on what to do as president.

He is convinced that his party has the overwhelming support of the population a few months before the 2023 Presidential and legislative elections in Liberia.

Verification

Due to the virality of the claim and the controversy it has generated, DUBAWA embarked on a fact-check mission to ascertain the truth.

On October 10, 2017, Liberians went to the polls to elect a new President to replace then Africa’s first female President, Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, whose tenure had ended.

According to the National Elections Commission (NEC) results in the first round of the 2017 elections, President George Weah of the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) garnered 596,037 votes amounting to 38.37%. His rival, former Vice President, Ambassador Joseph N. Boakai of the then-ruling Unity Party (UP), came second with 446,716 votes constituting 28.76%.

After a protracted legal battle over election fraud which eventually ended up at the Highest Court of Liberia, the Justice ordered a rerun of the election.

Consequently, there was a run-off election between the two top candidates out of the 20 candidates who contested for the Liberian presidency.

On December 26, 2017, Liberians again went to the polls to decide the winner between the two leading candidates and to give that winner the mandate to govern. It was at this round of the election, according to the National Election Commission (NEC), that the former soccer icon, now president of Liberia, secured a total of 732,185 votes accounting for 61.54%, while his contender received a total of 457,579 votes representing 38.46%, to enable George Weah become the President of Liberia.

According to the International Foundation for Electoral System (IFES) data, George Weah won the Liberian 2017 Presidential election in the first round with 596,037 votes amounting to 38.37% and in the run-off, the West Africa Brief report indicated that President Weah won with 732,185 votes accounting for 61.54%.

Conclusion

Based on all of the data provided by the National Elections Commission (NEC) of Liberia on the 2017 Presidential and legislative elections, data from the International Foundation for Electoral System (IFES), and the West Africa Brief, it is evident that the assertion by the Liberian leader that he won 78% of the popular votes of the Liberian people is false. Rather, he obtained 38.37%  during the first round and 61.54% during the second round.

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