George Weah was known as being a good sport when he played on the football pitch. Early indications suggest that he may not be such a good sport when it comes to politics.
While Weah won the largest plurality in the first round of Liberia’s elections, early indications point to his sure defeat in the final, decisive round of the elections this past week. Most pundits think that Weah continued to get support from Liberia’s young men, but that the nation’s women and educated elites united behind Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf to make her Africa’s first elected woman president.
Unfortunately, Weah seems to be contending that the election was “stolen”, and the members of parliament affiliated with his party are threatening a boycott of parliament if the election is not held again. Given that all outside observers reported little more than minor irregularities, it seems unlikely that such a revote is going to take place.
There wouldn’t be much to worry about in this situation except for the fact that many of Weah’s supporters are ex-combatants in Liberia’s civil war and other wars in the region. Most of them don’t have jobs. Many of them do have guns. Even if Johnson-Sirleaf had Weah’s support, she’s still going to have a challenge building a Liberia with opportunity for these yound men. The worry is that Weah’s frustration over the election might motivate his supporters to pick up their weapons. Which is the last thing this shattered nation needs right now.
Johnson-Sirleaf has expressed her hope that Weah will be able to join her government after “getting over his disappointment”. Let’s hope that Weah can be as good a loser in politics as he was a winner in football.