George Weah is an iconic world footballer with huge political ambitions in Liberia. The former Ballon d’Or winner has however not been able to dribble himself into the top political office in Liberia.
After retiring from football in 2003, Weah contested for the presidency against Ellen Johnson Sirleaf in 2005, an unsuccessful venture that was replicated in 2011 when he contested for Vice President as Winston Tubman’s running mate.
Weah, who is currently a senator is contesting under the Congress for Democratic Change for president. Campaigns closed on Sunday in preparation for elections on Tuesday, October 10th. The importance of these elections can’t be overstated as it’s the first time a democratically elected president will hand over to another in post war Liberia.
Weah’s vice-presidential running mate is the ex-wife of Charles Taylor, Jewel Howard Taylor. Weah’s major threat to the presidency is the current vice president, Joseph Boakai who doesn’t have the endorsement of President Sirleaf Johnson.
With 20 candidates contesting for the elections, four are considered the major contestants: incumbent Vice President, Boakai of the Unity Party (UP); football icon, Weah of the CDC; Liberty Party’s (LP) Charles Brumskine; and the Alternative Congress’ (ANC) Alexander Cummings.
Weah’s popularity in Liberia is undeniable, a football star contesting for president. It is a near similar story to Uganda’s musician turned politician, Bobby Wine. But for Weah, having the former spouse of a former rebel leader is not a big issue. Besides, a former warlord, Prince Johnson is also contesting to become the next president. Johnson videoed the torture of Liberia’s former sitting president, Samuel Doe.
The only woman contesting for the elections, MacDella Cooper is Weah’sa former girlfriend, adding to the political intrigue of the country. The major opponent who is likely to give Weah a tough time is Boakai. Other contestants such as Alexander Cumming, a former Coca Cola executive who returned to Liberia from the U.S. and Charles Brumskine, a former ally of Charles Taylor have managed to garner a following but not seen as enough to threaten Weah’s ambitions.