Under pressure, Liberian President George Weah seeks second term | News about elections

The former soccer player, who took office in 2018, says he will strive for growth and peace if he wins another mandate in October.

Liberian President George Weah has told parliament he will run for re-election this year after a first term marred by corruption allegations and economic decline.

Weah took office in 2018 in the West African country’s first peaceful change of government in seven decades and has the constitutional right to run again in the Oct. 10 election.

“I will come to you soon to ask you to renew my mandate, the mandate you gave me six years ago,” he said in parliament on Monday, promising continued transformation, growth and peace.

Weah defended his first term in office saying: “Let me assure you that the state of our nation is strong. The state of our nation is stable… The state of our nation is peaceful and secure. We intend to keep it that way.”

Liberia is still recovering from a military coup in 1980 and a 14-year civil war that ended in 2003.

Weah, a former international footballer who rose to fame from a slum in Monrovia, won a landslide victory in the second round of the last general election in 2017 thanks to the support of the youth and the poor.

The 56-year-old leader has promised to end endemic corruption. His predecessor, Nobel Peace Prize laureate Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, was widely accused of failing to address it.

But corruption remains endemic in the country, with watchdog Transparency International ranking Liberia 136th out of 180 countries in its 2021 Corruption Perceptions Index.

In 2018, a corruption scandal in which Liberia lost $100 million in newly printed central bank notes sparked widespread allegations of misuse of public funds within the Weah administration.

The United States last year imposed sanctions on three Liberian government officials, including Weah’s chief of staff, for what it said was their continued involvement in public corruption.

Disappointment has been compounded by the economic downturn in a country where the majority of the population lives in deep poverty.

Liberia has also been ravaged by the Ebola pandemic, and the nation of five million people, one of the poorest in the world, has been hit hard by the fallout from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. About half of its residents live on less than $1.90 a day, according to the World Bank.

Weah said in October 2020 that he would seek to serve only two terms, expressing concern at the time about protests in neighboring Ivory Coast and Guinea over their presidents’ bids for a third term.

Founded as a colony in 1822 by former American slaves, Liberia became a republic 25 years later – the first in Africa.

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