Africa News Bulletin

Liberia’s Election: Third-Place Finisher, Appleton, Backs Boakai in Runoff

….. “Mr. Boakai, as we endorse you today, we ask that you carry our ideology and principles along with you,” Appleton said. “As we approach the runoff, the significance of our endorsement cannot be overstated.”

Edward Appleton, the surprising 3rd place finisher in the first round of the October 10 polls, has thrown his support behind former Vice President Joseph Boakai, who is set to face off against President George Weah during the November 14 runoff elections.

Appleton’s endorsement, which marks a significant shift in the political landscape, makes him the third of the top-six presidential candidates from the initial round to back Boakai against Weah in the highly anticipated runoff rematch.

During the first round of elections, he garnered 40,271 votes, constituting 2.20% of the slightly over 1.9 million votes cast. His support, albeit modest in terms of percentage, is expected to prove crucial in the closely contested runoff as his base is part of the larger share of undecided voters who never voted for the two frontrunners in the first round.

“Mr. [Boakai], as we endorse you today, we ask that you carry our ideology and principles along with you,” Appleton said. “As we approach the runoff, the significance of our endorsement cannot be overstated.”

“It [does] not only bolster your chances but also sends a powerful message to the electorate, emphasizing the importance of unity and collaboration in achieving our national goals,” he added.

According to Appleton, his endorsement of Boakai stems from the shared values his party shares with the Unity Party, which the former Vice President heads. He cited the well-being of the Liberian people as a major reason behind his party’s decision to support Boakai, saying that Liberia needs a leader “with experience and dedication to address the country’s problems effectively.”

Appleton’s endorsement comes after he had previously held meetings with Weah and top campaign officials who were also seeking his support for the upcoming runoff elections. Their discussions were held behind closed doors and generated significant speculation about potential alignment.

However, his endorsement of Boakai, along with his party—the Grassroots Development Movement—came as a surprise, even though he had held meetings with the former Vice President and confidants as well.

The runoff election, expected to be fiercely contested, saw President George Weah top the first round with a slim margin of 804,087 votes, constituting 43.83% of the total vote. However, former Vice President Joseph Boakai followed closely with 796,961 votes, representing 43.44%. The tight race indicates that every endorsement and additional vote is crucial in the race to the presidency.

The President, who like Boakai, has received significant endorsements from various prominent individuals and legislative candidates, both elected and defeated, has missed out on the endorsement of the top-six presidential candidates from the initial round of voting.

Lusinee Kamara, the fourth-placed finisher, whom he had earlier courted, has also thrown his support behind Boakai, whom he believes is the most prepared candidate to lead the change the country needs.

Kamara, whose endorsement happened a few days ahead of Appleton, garnered a nationwide vote of 35,988, which constituted 1.96%. He boasts the Muslim community, who in their majority rallied behind him in the just-ended polls.

According to the 2022 Census, an estimated 12.2 percent of the country’s nearly 5.5 million people are Muslim. For years, the Muslim community has raised concerns about their limited inclusion in political party structures across the country. This positions Kamara as the voice of such a large voting block that is spread across the country.

The first top-six place finisher that endorsed Boakai was Cllr. Taiwan Gongloe, who came in 6th with a vote of 26,390, which constituted 1.44%. Gongloe also boasts a strong following among the educated class and the Mano tribe in vote-rich Nimba County.

Each of the top six place finishers has described Boakai as the best candidate to lead Liberia on a path to prosperity, warning that another term for Weah would be disastrous for the country.

Liberian Observer

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