Former world football star George Weah has won a seat in Liberia’s senate to represent the capital, defeating the son of the president and boosting his political fortunes ahead of a presidential election in 2017.
Weah won the Montserrado County seat that includes the capital Monrovia with 78 percent of the vote, defeating Robert Sirleaf, the son of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Liberia’s National Elections Commission said late on Saturday.
Weah, leader of the country’s largest opposition party, the Congress for Democratic Change, lost the 2005 presidential election to Sirleaf and lost again in 2011 when he was a vice presidential candidate. He is expected to stand again in 2017.
Weah won FIFA’s World Player of the Year in 1995 and was considered one of the greatest African football players in history.
Liberia’s efforts to recover from a long civil war that ended in 2003 and reestablish 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 percent of the total number of registered voters,” election commission chairman Jerome Korkoya said in a statement following the elections to the senate – the upper house of the legislature.
Other Senate winners included Jewel Howard Taylor, the former wife of ex-President Charles Taylor who was convicted by the International Criminal Court in 2012 on charges including war crimes and crimes against humanity. Jewel Taylor retained her seat in Bong County, north-central Liberia.
Former rebel leader Prince Johnson, whose forces captured, tortured and killed President Samuel Doe during the civil war in 1990, also retained a seat in Nimba County.