Former soccer star George Weah is set to win the December 26 presidential election runoff in Liberia.
On Thursday, with more than 98% of the votes counted, Weah led his opponent Vice President Joseph Boakai of the Unity Party 61.5% to 38.5%, according to the National Elections Commission (NEC).
Weah, the candidate for the Coalition of Democratic Change, won the first round of the election in October with 38.4% while Boakai netted 28.8%, according to the commission.
NEC Chairman Jerome Korkoya said in a press conference Thursday that the final election results would “hopefully” be announced on Friday.
For decades, Liberia has waited through war and strongmen for a peaceful democratic transfer of power. On Thursday, as the last ballots in a presidential election were being tallied, that appeared to be on the verge of happening.
In electing Mr. Weah, Liberian voters are investing in him hopes that he can build on one certain accomplishment of Mrs. Sirleaf: keeping the country out of war.
But Mrs. Sirleaf’s government has also been plagued with corruption charges, high unemployment and a shambolic health system that is still trying to regain its footing after the devastation of the 2014 Ebola epidemic, which killed more people in Liberia than anywhere else.
Mr. Weah, 51, will take over the running of Liberia without Mrs. Sirleaf’s long history of public service. His only experience in government office has been his three years as a senator, representing Monrovia, a time during which his opponents criticized him for failing to speak up during legislative sessions.