Knockout Stage

By Fredrick P. W. Gaye

Predictions and analyses, judging from previous elections, based on the number of candidates, have come to past, as presidential runoff, similar to that of a knockout stage in football and other competitions, has been set in emotion in the 2017 elections.

After settling at the top of other candidates, George Manneh Weah of the opposition Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) and Liberia’s vice president, Joseph Nyumah Boakai of the ruling Unity Party (UP) have been given the green light to the knockout state.

Twenty presidential candidates participated in the first round of the October 10 elections; and none of them could obtain the absolute majority votes: 50% plus a vote, as provided for by the Liberian Constitution.

As commonly said by a Liberian musician, “Friday the cellphone man”, “simple mistakes, you out,” so it is with this stage. Vote tie is very difficult and that percentage is not necessary anymore since there are two persons in the race. Whether there was higher percentage during the first round, every candidate is now starting from zero vote and that any of them who obtains a vote higher now will be the winner.

The National Elections Commission (NEC) on Thursday, October 19, 2017, announced the final results of the elections, with the exception of legislative results from Nimba County District #8 and Grand Cape Mount District #3.

According to NEC’s chairman Cllr. Jerome Korkoya, out of the 2,183,629 registered voters, 1,641,944, constituting 75.2%, voted, with 1,553,348 valid and 88,574 invalid.

Announcing the presidential results, Korkoya said Weah accumulated 596,037 votes constituting 38.4% while Boakai accumulated 446,716 accounting for 28.8%.

The two candidates were followed by Charles Brumskine of the Liberty Party (LP) with 9.6%; Prince Y. Johnson of the Movement for Democracy and Reconstruction (MDR) with (8.2%) and Alexander Cummings of the Alternative National Congress (ANC) with (7.2%.

Korkoya then declared a runoff between Weah and Boakai, to be held on Tuesday, November 7, 2017. He also declared campaign immediately and reiterated calls for the two candidates and their supporters to observe elections and campaign regulations. He said campaign activities end by 11:59PM on Sunday, November 5, 2017.

With campaign now opened, CDC strategists and technocrats are of the high conviction of clinching state power. According to them, Liberians are tired with the current regime, blaming the UP-led government of not doing much to improve the country and its people. They are pushing for what they refer to as generational change. They also accuse the UP government of massive corruption without any efforts to fight this alleged menace.

Countering, UP officials are confident of winning in the runoff. They have vowed to correct their mistakes during the first round which made the party to lag behind the CDC with votes. The governing party’s operatives say they are going to campaign vigorously to maintain the number of votes obtained from the first round, capture the remaining votes accumulated by other political parties and even change the minds of some CDC’s supporters and sympathizers. They are making reference to the 2005 and 2011 elections where the UP won CDC in runoffs. They further noted that a Weah leadership is not an alternative for Liberia.

However, the big question is how possible will their respective vows be. CDC, UP and some other political parties had assured a one-round win during the first round of elections.

As analysts and others who have been following Liberia’s elections in recent years had predicted, a one-round victory did not come to past.

Be as it may, all eyes watching and the political dilly-dallies, speculations, vows and other forms of campaign promises will come to an end on November 7, 2017.