Former soccer star George Weah has waited 12 years to grow to be president of Liberia, and along with his dream now inside touching distance followers danced and sang in help in a Monrovia stadium on Saturday.
Weah goes head-to-head with Vice-President Joseph Boakai on December 26 in a long-delayed run-off for the presidency, with hopes that Christmas celebrations don’t cease his legions of younger and poor supporters from popping out to vote.
“Weah is our man. Weah for president,” they screamed throughout a cacophony of rumba and vuvuzelas, leaping from pick-up vehicles which have introduced Liberians to the capital from all 4 corners of this small west African nation.
Speaking to AFP at his residence earlier than the rally, Weah was emphatic about his possibilities with simply three days to go.
“You know I’ve been in competitions — tough ones too and I came out victorious. So I know Boakai cannot defeat me,” he mentioned. “I have the people on my side.”
Samuel Kanyon Doe stadium, named after the president killed by rebels in 1990, will welcome as much as 35,000 folks. By early afternoon it was already filling up because the stage was ready for the person they name “Ambassador Weah”.
“The mood is good, very good, a solid mood. After 12 years of hard work we are about to reach our people with the leadership of this country. We are still making sure that the polls are well attended,” mentioned Wilson Tarpeh, marketing campaign supervisor of Weah’s Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC).
“We are confident but we are not complacent. We know we will win,” he added.
Among the t-shirts, stickers and pins that slowly fashioned a sea of Weah’s picture, D. Joshua Zinnah sat within the stands as ice chilly beers have been handed out and defined why the 51-year-old soccer hero has such a maintain on the nation.
“I expect freedom of speech, I expect job creation and I believe 100 percent that George Manneh Weah is the only person that can redeem us from this kind of stress that we are in,” he mentioned, including he would carry “a better educational system” to a rustic the place greater than half of youngsters don’t end faculty.
Weah, chimed in Sophie Doe, a pupil CDC member, “can encourage the people” amid a stuttering financial system and governance tarred by corruption.
– All to play for –
Weah is healthier recognized overseas for his meteoric profession in top-flight European groups akin to AC Milan and PSG within the 1990s, however he has funded faculty locations for hundreds of schoolchildren at house, and thoroughly crafted a picture as an expert politician after being elected a senator in 2014.
The nation’s elite say overtly he’s unqualified to guide, however the story of the boy who realized to kick a soccer in certainly one of Africa’s worst slums and went on to overcome the world’s greatest leagues stays compelling to many.
His supporters have remained calm and affected person as his opponent Boakai has filed authorized complaints with the Supreme Court alleging the primary spherical of voting on October 10 was marred by fraud — allegations the courtroom rejected, however which held up voting for seven lengthy weeks.
Weah has spent the time assembly a number of West African heads of state and even a star Nigerian evangelical preacher who handed down his blessing to the one African winner of the Ballon D’Or.
He even managed a public look with Boakai’s boss on Thursday — the lady they each search to succeed, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.
Sirleaf has didn’t marketing campaign for Boakai regardless of two phrases spent governing collectively and has attracted public criticism from his supporters over her absence and the looks of a feud.
Her determination to seem with the previous footballer was seen as a not-so-subtle sign in some quarters, given she has not appeared in public with Boakai for months.
But Weah’s supporters are cautious: he loved a hefty lead in 2005 when he stood towards Sirleaf, solely to lose within the second spherical towards expectations.
In Monrovia, every part remains to be to play for.
*Reported by AFP