-in November 14 runoff election
Amid visibly low voter turnout across the country, President George Manneh Weah and his main challenger, Joseph Nyuman Boakai are optimistic of victory in Tuesday, November 14, 2023, Runoff Presidential Election.
Speaking to reporters immediately after casting his ballot Tuesday, in Kendeja community along the Robertsfield Highway outside Monrovia, President Weah expressed satisfaction over the peaceful manner in which Liberians turned out to vote for a preferable candidate under an atmosphere he describes as calm.
“I’m happy; the place is calm and everybody voting and there is no tension, that’s true nature of democracy and want to urge every Liberian to exercise their constitution in this way, as the best for our country,” the President says.
Mr. Weah expresses optimism of defeating his fierce rival Amb. Joseph Nyumah Boakai of the Unity Party, noting that his work of unprecedented developments over the past six years will speak for him in a resounding victory after the poll.
“I’m always confident, as I’m in the process of casting my vote, the confidence that was reposed in me for my work. With what I have done, the Liberian people will elect me, there’s no doubt”, President Weah says in a joyful tone.
However, after casting his ballot in Montserrado County Electoral District #6, Ambassador Boakai told journalists at his Rehab residence in Paynesville that voter trucking was responsible for a low voter turnout in the run-off.
He believes that some voters who registered outside their constituency were unable to transport themselves to where they had registered.
The opposition Unity Party (UP) presidential candidate challenged the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change’s (CDC) Weah in Tuesday’s run-off on 14 November, their second time in such an electoral battle.
The National Elections Commission (NEC) held the run-off because both men failed to secure the 50 percent plus one vote required to be declared a winner of the presidential election contested by 20 candidates on 10 October.
“What I think [is] responsible for the low turnout, the low turnout is due to voters trucking during the general elections,” says Amb. Boakai.
“Another factor for the low turnout may also be because the electorate believes the process is not as tense as the previous elections, as such they see nothing hasty in being swift to visit the polls,” he adds.
According to the opposition politician, during the first round of the elections, there were candidates in the race for both senatorial and representative seats.
He notes that some of those candidates transported voters to places that those people are unable to transport themselves in the run-off.
Amb. Boakai was accompanied by his wife Kartumu Boakai at Ma Guire Catholic School in Paynesville to cast his ballot.
He was also accompanied by party chairman Rev. Luther Tarpeh during voting Tuesday. A huge crowd of young people was seen chanting “Our father sorry, we made [a] mistake; the true rescue,” as Mr. Boakai headed to the polling center.
Meanwhile, Amb. Boakai expresses trust in the voting process, saying “I’m satisfied with what I saw. I don’t know what is happening around, but I hope all is okay.”
When asked about his expectations, the opposition leader says he is in the race to win.
Commenting on the alleged confiscation of alleged pre-marked ballot papers, Amb. Boakai notes that these are things they expected, but adds that he was not afraid.
“We expect everything that is happening. We have heard about people traveling with ballot papers and boxes.We also heard about pre-marked ballot papers. But, we are not afraid. We want our supporters not to be afraid, let them go out there and vote for your liberation,” he urges.
On the other hand, President Weah, who has received barrage of criticisms for bad governance and lack of leadership skills to move the country forward, has always reiterated that he is the West African nation’s best President.
He outlines gains made by his administration – building hospitals, roads, free tuition public universities and payment of WASSCE fees for 12th graders, among others, while asking for second term to leave a lasting legacy in the memories of Liberians.
President Weah, who acknowledges citizens’ outcry against poverty, economic hardship, and youth being consumed by dangerous drugs that have permeated the country, promises to do far better if re-elected.
Both candidates in the runoff presidential election failed to secure 50% plus one of the total votes cast in the first round, a threshold required to avoid a second round election.
President Weah received 43.80% of the votes cast on October 10, 2023 against his main rival Amb. Joseph Nyumah Boakai of the Unity Party (UP) with 43.44 percent.
For his part, Unity Party chairman Rev. Luther Tarpeh said he is certain about their victory.
According to him, it is written on the walls because he believes Liberians are resolved.
Meanwhile, the National Elections Commission is expected to begin announcing provisional results of the 14 November Runoff Presidential Election today, Wednesday, 15 November. Editing by Jonathan Browne