Liberian President George Weah will face off against challenger Joseph Boakai for the second time in a November 14 runoff vote, election officials in the West African nation said Tuesday.

The results of the first round announced by Liberia’s National Elections Commission are the closest runoff since the end of the country’s back-to-back civil wars.

Weah, a former international soccer star, failed to win an absolute majority and took 43.83% of the first-round vote, the commission announced. Boakai led a crowded field of challengers with 43.44%.

The two politicians last faced off in the 2017 vote when Weah ultimately won 60% of the vote in the second round. It was the first democratic transfer of power since the end of the country’s back-to-back civil wars between 1989 and 2003, which killed some 250,000 people.

Weah won that election amid high hopes brought about by his promise to fight poverty and generate infrastructure development. His goal, he had said in 2017, was to push Liberia from a low-income country to a middle-income one.

But Weah has been accused of not living up to the key campaign and ensuring justice for victims of the country’s civil wars.

Boakai, who served as vice president under Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Africa’s first democratically elected female leader, has campaigned on a promise to rescue Liberia from what he called Weah’s failed leadership.

Weah is the only African to have won the Ballon d’Or. He played as a forward for Paris Saint-Germain, AC Milan, Chelsea and Manchester City during an 18-year club career. His 23-year-old son, Tim, now plays for Serie A club Juventus and the U.S. national team.

Joseph Boakai is courting small parties before this second round against George Weah, who won the 2017 election, thanks to the high hopes raised by his promise to fight poverty and promote the development of infrastructure in Africa’s oldest republic.

For Davidetta Browne-Lansanah, president of the NEC, the funds required for the organization of the second round of elections are finally available and the vote should take place without great difficulty.

By: Isaac Clottey

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