Liberia’s President, George Weah, officially launched his campaign for a second term on Thursday, in front of thousands of supporters in the capital Monrovia ahead of next month’s polls.
Keen supporters of the West African country’s leader, a former international football star, began descending on a stadium in central Monrovia at dawn for the event.
“I am extremely pleased you put your confidence in me to lead our country over the last six years,” Weah said. “I owe my accession to the presidency to the hard work and perseverance of my supporters”.
“During our first term, we laid the foundations for peace, freedom of speech, macroeconomic stability, and restoring confidence in the national educational system. I can guarantee that the years 2024 and beyond will be better for all Liberians”.
Supporters wore red berets bearing the logo of the ruling CDC party as well as blue T-shirts with pictures of Weah and running mate 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.
Many of those assembled were young people who had backed the party since before they were eligible to vote. Sixty-three per cent of Liberians are under the age of 25, according to UN figures.
First-time voter Victoria Kpahn, 19, told AFP she was confident of a “first-round victory”, as she chanted CDC slogans.
Weah has been touring the country to test his popularity with voters ahead of the presidential and parliamentary elections on October 10, and other major parties have followed suit.
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.
Many are also worried about possible electoral violence in the country, which suffered back-to-back civil wars between 1989 and 2003 that left more than 250,000 people dead.
Weah has promised to create jobs and invest in education, but his critics accuse him of failing to deliver.