Weah to tackle rival on radio in presidential race
Monday 31 October 2005
On paper it is a mismatch, with Mr Weah, a high school dropout and political novice, having to take on a Harvard-trained former World Bank economist and veteran politician.
The former AC Milan and Chelsea player led the field of 22 candidates in Liberia's first election in 14 years, taking 30 per cent of the vote to Ms Johnston-Sirleaf's 19.6 per cent. An iconic figure in his homeland, who has managed and captained the national football team, Mr Weah fought and effective and well-funded campaign that has drawn enormous crowds, many of them former child soldiers, attracted by his messianic style.
The showdown on Thursday between the two presidential contenders will be staged in the capital, Monrovia. The presidential contest will be decided in a 8 November run-off.
Ms Johnston-Sirleaf was the outstanding performer in a previous debate involving all the candidates and analysts had expected her less obviously qualified opponent to avoid a one-to-one debate.
Mr Weah, 39, who played during his football career for AC Milan, AS Monaco, Paris St Germain and Chelsea, and Ms Johnson-Sirleaf have both campaigned on promises to rebuild war-ravaged Liberia's shattered infrastructure and restore basic services such as water and mains electricity.
The presidential and parliamentary polls were the first in Liberia since the war ended in 2003, after the former president and warlord Charles Taylor went into exile in Nigeria. Taylor, whose army included child soldiers high on drugs, is wanted for war crimes by a UN-backed tribunal in Sierra Leone. He is regarded as the culprit for several west African conflicts.
International election observers, diplomats and United Nations officials have praised an election broadly judged so far to have been free and fair. Both of the contenders have said they will ask that a peacekeeping mission remains in Liberia for the foreseeable future.
Liberia, Africa's oldest independent republic, was founded by freed American slaves in 1847 and enjoyed relatively stability for well over a century, becoming a centre for rubber and iron ore production. That prosperity was shattered by a string of conflicts that laid waste to infrastructure to such an extent that even the capital Monrovia has no piped water or state-supplied electricity. Liberia has debts of about $3bn; unemployment is more than 80 per cent. Its national budget has shrunk to $80m from more than $300m before civil war took hold.
"The country is potentially so rich, that once the security and the political situation stabilise, everything is possible. You can double, triple, multiply by ten [the national budget]," Abdoulaye Bio-Tchane, the International Monetary Fund's top official for Africa, told Reuters.
Are beards attractive? Ryan Gosling says yes, but science says no. Take the A-list facial hair challenge and find out who's right
South Korea ferry: Four dead and almost 300 missing as mass rescue gets underway
Oscar Pistorius trial: Reeva Steenkamp told athlete she 'loved him' for first time in Valentine's Day card
Oscar Pistorius trial: Reeva Steenkamp standing with 'hand on the door handle' when she was shot dead
Lunar eclipse 2014: Images of the spectacular 'blood moon'
The food poverty scandal that shames Britain: Nearly 1m people rely on handouts to eat – and benefit reforms may be to blame
US Navy christens huge $3 billion destroyer ship USS Zumwalt that appears as a fishing boat on enemy radar
Nigel Farage fatigue? Half of voters ‘immune’ to Ukip’s appeal
Scottish independence: It is the English who should be on their knees, begging the Scots to vote ‘No’
Nigel Farage on Have I Got News For You: Ukip leader ridiculed over expenses and party 'fruitcakes'
Refugee facing deportation from Sweden saved by fellow passengers refusing to let plane leave
- 1 Poveglia: 'World's most haunted island' up for auction...is anyone brave enough to buy it?
- 2 Refugee facing deportation from Sweden saved by fellow passengers refusing to let plane leave
- 3 Naked yoga: the bare truth - it's already big in the US, and has now landed here
- 4 24 people applied for the 'world's toughest job', here are their interviews
- 5 Scientists warn we've hit 'peak beard': The more people grow facial hair, the less attractive it is
£26K-30k + Bonus, Private Medical Insurance, Company Pension: Charter Selectio...
£25K-28k + Bonus, Private Medical Insurance, Company Pension: Charter Selectio...
£50000 - £65000 Per Annum potentially flexible for the right candidate: Clearw...
£38000 per annum + Benefits: Pro-Recruitment Group: Do you have experience of ...