Liberia polls: President Weah snubs TV debate with rivals

Liberia polls: President Weah snubs TV debate with rivals

President George Weah is seeking a second term after rising to power in 2017.
Liberia is preparing for its crucial presidential and general elections scheduled for 10 October 2023. / Photo: Reuters

Liberian President George Weah was among the three leading candidates who snubbed a televised presidential debate held on Tuesday.

The president instead attended a whistle-stop campaign tour in the southeastern region of the country.

Opposition candidates, former Vice President Joseph Nyumah Boakai of Unity Party (UP) and Alexander Cummings of the Collaborating Political Parties (CPP) also skipped the presidential debate.

Liberians will vote in presidential and parliamentary elections on Tuesday, in what the main political parties have pledged will be a peaceful process.

Expected to participate

It was the first of two presidential debates organized by a consortium of media and civil society. Ten presidential candidates were expected to participate.

They are meant provide an opportunity for voters to gain insight into the candidates’ positions on critical issues, their policy proposals and their vision for the future, according to organisers.

President Weah and his main rival Boakai had indicated that they would not take part in the debate because of campaign commitments.

Twenty presidential candidates are competing to lead the country of about five million. Many Liberians say the rising cost of living and concerns over corruption are key issues that will affect their vote.

First term

The elections will test the popularity of ex-football star Weah after a chaotic first term. Weah came to power on a wave of hope that he could improve things, despite his lack of political experience. But a series of scandals have set him back.

His running mate is Jewell Taylor, ex-wife of former president Charles Taylor, who is serving a 50-year jail sentence for war crimes and crimes against humanity in neighbouring Sierra Leone.

Opposition leader Boakai launched his campaign earlier this month. Boakai, 78, came second to Weah in 2017 elections.

TRT Afrika and agencies