George Weah, the former world footballer of the year, has been elected to the Liberian senate in a landslide victory over Robert Sirleaf, the son of the current president.
Weah, a former AC Milan and Chelsea FC forward, won 78% of the vote in Montserrado district, which includes Liberia’s capital, Monrovia, beating the son of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, who took 11% of the vote, said the country’s national elections commission.
The Ebola outbreak forced authorities in the West African state to cancel the election when it was initially scheduled in October, and fears of the disease caused a low turnout in yesterday’s election.
“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% of the total number of registered voters,” the election commission chairman, Jerome Korkoya, said in a statement.
Weah, who is the only African to have won Fifa’s top accolade for players, previously ran for the Liberian presidency in 2005, when he lost to Sirleaf.
He was also unsuccessful in a 2011 bid for the vice-presidency. He is expected to use his senate seat as a platform to run for the presidency again in 2016.
The Ebola outbreak, which has killed more than 3,000 Liberians, has also hampered the country’s efforts to rebuild after successive civil wars which ended in 2003.
At polling stations yesterday, voters had their temperature taken, were made to stand one metre away from one another, and had to wash their hands before and after casting their ballot, reports the BBC.
Other winners yesterday include Jewel Taylor, the former wife of ex-president Charles Taylor, who was convicted by an international criminal court in 2012 on charges including war crimes and crimes against humanity.
Former rebel leader Prince Johnson – whose forces captured, tortured and killed president Samuel Doe during the civil war in 1990 – retained his Nimba county seat.
Weah won the European and Fifa World Player of the Year awards in 1995, and was awarded the African Player of the Year award in 1989, 1994 and 1995.