Within a year of taking office in 2018, the country was rocked by huge demonstrations against the cost of living and government corruption.ccu
Despite initial setbacks, Weah still has a few tricks up his sleeve, beyond the widespread nostalgia for his days playing for elite European managers like Arsène Wenger, and the reflected glory of watching his son score a goal for the US at the World Cup.
The first is a Teflon disposition to corruption allegations. Millions of dollars have disappeared from the central bank. Government auditors who were investigating graft have been murdered. Revelations about the many unreported properties that Weah owns in Liberia, the US and France, as well as multiple paternity suits, have raised few eyebrows.
Weah’s trump card may be economic: an agreement on a railway through Liberia from Simandou in Guinea – one of the world’s largest iron ore deposits. If the contract goes through, it means the funds will certainly help grease the wheels of domestic politics. The deal, however, remains snarled up in the junta’s current chaotic and self-interested decision-making.
If all else fails, there will be a campaign to dislodge the head of the electoral commission, whom Weah’s team believe will not help in any efforts to rig the elections.
Weah’s opposition remains divided. The ‘poor man’s lawyer’ Tiawan Gongloe may rally large crowds, but he is unlikely to break through. Former vice-president Joseph Boakai is uninspirational at 77 years of age.
Alexander Cummings, a former Coca-Cola executive, was accused in January 2022 of forgery by political coalition partner the ALP, who said Cumming’s ANC had falsified coalition documents, a suit which the government joined. Cummings commissioned Cherie Blair to dispute in a 16-page document.
The ALP is run by phone network and shipping magnate Benoni Urey, who is also flexing his vast fortune to run.
The result is likely to be a split opposition vote that will allow Weah to slip through.
A previous version of this article incorrectly claimed that Cummings had been put in jail in January 2022 – we apologise for the error.
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