C:\Users\Smita\Downloads\IMG-20200123-WA0000 (1).jpg

For a world class footballer par excellence and a popular sportsman like George Weah,to be elected President of Liberia by such a wide margin must have been music to the ears of countless millions.Indeed,he is the only African player to be both FIFA’s world player of the year and win the Ballon d’Or.When the country’s electoral commission announced the ex-AC Milan, Chelsea and Manchester City striker had taken 61.5% of the vote from 98.1% of ballots cast, the electorate erupted in joy. He beat Vice President Joseph Boakai, who took 38.5% of the vote. Mr Boakai conceded quickly. In a county plagued by civil strife, bloodshed and worse, he had no choice. People were looking for a complete and welcome change after years of foreign powers settling their disputes. The United Nations used to be the perennial umpire.Mr Weah promptly tweeted:”Change is on.” He had succeeded Ellen Johnson Sirleaf to become President in the country’s first democratic transition since 1944.Earlier,he had tweeted:”The Liberian people clearly made their choice… and all together we are very confident in the result of the electoral process.”The process had been delayed by several weeks after a legal challenge by Mr Boakai.It was natural for armed police to be stationed outside the polling body’s headquarters as some of Mr Weah’s supporters started their celebrations.Mr Weah, 51,grew up in abject poverty.Indeed,he was raised by his grandmother in one of the worst slums of Liberia’s capital Monrovia,but he went on to have a glittering football career in the 1990s.He played for a number of different teams in Africa before being transferred to Monaco where he was coached by Arsene Wenger.He also played for Paris Saint-Germain, AC Milan, Chelsea and Manchester City.He is the first and only African player to have won both FIFA’s World Player of the Year trophy and the Ballon d’Or.On being persuaded by so many that he was needed for a greater cause, he formed the Congress for Democratic Change but was defeated. Then in 2011 he came second as a vice presidential candidate. He has been senator for Montserrat County in Liberia after being elected in 2014.He won 38.4% of votes in the first round on 10 October, while his opponent Mr Boakai came second with 28.8%.This triggered the run-off as neither made it past the 50% needed for an outright win. At the run-off, there was no looking back. He got a whopping majority. Liberia got a leader who had succeeded on the world stage even against all odds. One with strong character, grit and determination; he is known to be a man who abides by ethics and principles. These are not common traits amongst politicians nowadays. His countrymen can only look up to him with great hope and expectation. There are plenty of obstacles left by the history of his country but there is every reason to believe that he would use his manoeuvring skills deftly.

(Writer Utpal Chatterjee, former Kolkata Sheriff ,  headed a famed city based soccer team )

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *