Yesterday’s voting in Liberia was the first to take place in the absence of UN peacekeepers, making it a crucial security test for the country and its security forces. The seeming two-horse race – between ruling Unity Party candidate, Vice-President Joseph Boakai, and opposition Congress for Democratic Change veteran, ex-footballer Senator George Weah – takes place with recovery from the Ebola Crisis of 2014/15 and commodity price volatility as its backdrop. Nevertheless, looking at their programmes, neither candidate has expressed a clear plan for tackling Liberia’s the pressing issues surrounding human and physical infrastructure.
Speaking with local colleagues before the polls there was a sense of exasperation with the macroeconomic difficulties, alongside a peace mantra “this is not a life or death situation. What the people want most right now is peace”. Thus far, this seems to have borne out. However, there have been concerns that Weah’s connection to former rebels via Senator Jewel Taylor, wife of imprisoned former warlord Charles Taylor, could test gains. In terms of electoral arithmetic, polling had placed Boakai ahead but the Taylor alliance boosts Weah’s standing in two of the three most populous counties: Monsterrado and Bong.
The above paragraphs are excerpted from a larger piece shared on 11th October
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