Weah leads Boakai in race for Liberia presidency

More partial figures released by Liberia's electoral commission Friday showed former footballer George Weah ahead of incumbent Vice-President Joseph Boakai as they battle for the presidency.

With 33.71 percent of polling stations counted, Weah has taken the lead with 39.7 percent (205,218 votes), while Boakai claimed 31.2 percent, (161,413 votes), in a contest to replace President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the National Elections Commission (NEC) said.

The pair are well clear of all other candidates.

Third and fourth place are held by longtime opposition leader Charles Brumskine with 9.4 percent (48,390 votes), while former Coca-Cola executive Alexander Cummings took 6.7 percent (34,672), according to the partial results.

If no single candidate gains more than 50 percent of the vote a runoff will be scheduled in November between the top two contenders, according to Liberian law, but whether this will be necessary is not yet clear.

Turnout among voters in the polling stations counted so far was high at 74.58 percent, NEC Chairman Jerome Korkoya said.

Liberia’s has 2.1 million registered voters. The election should represent the nation’s first democratic transfer of power in seven decades.

Although one party called for a halt to counting alleging irregularities, international observers have said Tuesday’s vote was generally free and fair, despite polling staff causing long lines and confusion due to a lack of training.

The problems caused many polling stations to close late and a delay in counting. The NEC has until October 25 to declare a final result.

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