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Liberian President George Weah to run for reelection

George Weah

Liberia’s President George Weah on Monday told parliament he would run for reelection this year after a first term marred with graft allegations and economic downturn.

Weah, 56, took office in 2018 in the West African country’s first peaceful change of power in seven decades and is constitutionally eligible to run again in the Oct. 10 poll.

“I will be coming to you shortly to ask you to renew my term, a mandate that you give me six years ago,” he said in parliament on Monday, vowing to pursue transformation, growth and peace.

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

Weah, a former international football star who rose to fame from a slum in Monrovia, clinched a landslide run-off victory in the last general election in 2017 on the back of support from young people and the poor.

He promised to end endemic corruption his predecessor, Nobel Peace Prize winner Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, was widely accused of failing to address.

But he rapidly faced the same criticisms. In 2018, a graft scandal in which Liberia lost $100 million in newly printed central bank notes sparked widespread allegations of misuse of public funds within Weah’s administration.

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

Disillusionment has been compounded by economic decline in a country where most of the population lives in deep poverty.

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

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