Liberia’s run-off: Who will it be, Weah or Boakai?

The quest to obtain Liberia’s highest office is still in limbo after a highly competitive first round pushed the elections into a run-off. Since Aug. 5, 2023, 20 different personalities have been canvassing for votes. They passionately sought the consent and votes of the Liberian people to entrust either of them with the executive power of the state.

Article 83 (b) of the constitution of Liberia states, “…Elections of President and Vice-President shall be by an absolute majority of the valid votes cast. If no Presidential ticket obtains an absolute majority in the first ballot, a second ballot shall be conducted on the Second Tuesday following the expiry of the time provided in Article 83 ( c ). The two presidential tickets that received the greatest number of valid votes on the first ballot shall be designated to participate in the run-off election, and the ticket with a majority of the valid votes cast shall be the declared winner.”

A total of 2,471,617 Liberians registered to vote for the country’s 2023 Presidential and Legislative Elections. There are 1,949,155, constituting 78.86% of the total number of registered Liberians who cast their votes, and of that figure, 1,834,516 votes were valid, while 114,639 were deemed invalid.

All presidential election results have been announced by the National Elections Commission (NEC). The final results, as announced on Oct. 24, 2023, show incumbent George Weah of the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) and Unity Party leader and former Vice-President Joseph Boakai are neck-to-neck on top with no clear absolute majority as required by law.

George Weah obtained 804,087 votes, constituting 43.83% of the total number of valid votes cast, while his main rival, Joseph Boakai, accrued 796,961 votes, constituting 43.44% of the total votes cast on Oct. 10, 2023.

As it stands, none of the 20 presidential candidates have been fortunate to obtain more than half (50% + 1 ) of the total number of valid votes cast in the October Elections, as provided for by law.

However, Boakai and Weah have been designated by the constitution of Liberia as the two leading candidates in the October polls to go for a runoff.

What is a runoff election?

A runoff is an additional election that resolves an inconclusive one. If there is a tie for class president, the candidates will need a runoff election to see who gets the job.

Unlike the absolute majority of the total valid votes that either of the 20 presidential candidates could have obtained to be declared a winner in the first ballot, the runoff affords the top two candidates to obtain a majority of the valid votes cast to be declared the winner.

When is the runoff?

The NEC announced Tuesday, Nov. 14, 2023, as the day for the runoff, contrary to the Second Tuesday, following the expiry of the time provided in Article 83 ( c ) of the Liberian constitution. The Commission, however, declared the political campaign open for the runoff election, noting that the campaign will end on Nov. 12, 2023.

The two candidates are now soliciting the support of independent candidates and political parties from the just concluded Presidential, Senatorial, and Representative Elections to ensure victory in the upcoming run-off.

Who becomes the next president of Liberia, Mr George Weah or Mr Joseph Boakai? The people of Liberia will decide on Nov. 14.

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