Former footballer George Weah wins seat in Liberian Senate to set up presidential run in 2017

The one time World Player of the Year leads his country's largest opposition party

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Once the world’s best footballer, George Weah has won a seat in Liberia’s Senate to represent the capital, defeating the son of the President and boosting his flagging political fortunes ahead of presidential elections in 2017.

Mr Weah won the Montserrado County seat that includes the capital, Monrovia, with 78 per cent of the vote, defeating Robert Sirleaf, the son of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Liberia’s National Elections Commission said.

Mr Weah, who leads the largest opposition party, the Congress for Democratic Change, lost the 2005 presidential election to Mr Sirleaf and lost again in 2011 when he was a vice-presidential candidate. He is expected to stand again in 2017.

Mr Weah, now 48, was named Fifa’s World Player of the Year in 1995 and played at Milan, Chelsea and Manchester City. Liberia’s efforts to recover from a long civil war that ended in 2003 and re-establish democracy have been hampered this year by an Ebola epidemic that has killed more than 3,300 people in the country and more than 7,500 people in West Africa.

“Results from all 4,701 polling places in the country have already been counted and tallied. The recorded voter turnout for the election is 479,936 which represents 25.2 per cent of the total number of registered voters,” said the election commission chairman, Jerome Korkoya, following the elections to the Senate – the upper house of the legislature.

Other Senate winners included Jewel Howard Taylor, the ex-wife of former president Charles Taylor who was convicted by the International Criminal Court in 2012 on charges including war crimes and crimes against humanity, and former rebel leader Prince Johnson, whose forces captured, tortured and killed President Samuel Doe during the civil war in 1990.