Liberians went to the polls on October 10, 2023, to elect a president, 15 senators, and 73 representatives to govern the affairs of the state on a six-nine-year mandate.
Following the Tuesday polls, authorities of the National Elections Commission (NEC) began releasing provisional results.
At this stage, the opposition Unity Party presidential candidate, Joseph Boakai and the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change candidate, incumbent George Weah are the top two candidates and are expected to be seen in a run-off.
Shine Liberia, a blog with 181K followers posted a post congratulating President Weah, claiming that he had never been defeated in any major competition.
“President Weah has never been defeated in any major competition for the record. Congratulations for taking the lead two days in a row, Dator Jepojee.”
The post generated 151 reactions, 55 comments, and 4 shares, according to our checks. Stage Media (TSM) began research, and here is what we found.
Verification: George Weah, 57, entered politics after a career as an international footballer, which saw him become the first and only African to win football’s most prestigious individual award, the Ballon d’Or, in 1995.
Weah won his first election in 2014 as senator of Montserrado County against Robert Sirleaf, son of former president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. This was after he had lost to Madam Sirleaf twice in competitive elections: in 2005 when he contested as President and in 2011 as Vice President to legal luminary Winston Tubman.
Image of 2005 election result
The election forpresidential was held in two rounds; 11 October and 8 November respectively.
Twenty-two candidates contested the presidential race in the first round. George Weah, former soccer star and Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, former World Bank employee and finance minister finished first and second and advanced to the second round run-off.
During the run-off, according to NEC, Johnson-Sirleaf won 59% while Weah lost 41%.
The 2011 Elections
Like 2005, general elections were held in Liberia on 11 October 2011, with a second round of the presidential election on 8 November.
Screenshot of the 2011 election presidential results
In the first round of the presidential election, incumbent President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of the Unity Party led the presidential field with 43.9% of the vote, followed by Congress for Democratic Change candidate Winston Tubman with 32.7%.
As no candidate received an absolute majority, Sirleaf and Tubman stood in a run-off election held on 8 November 2011.
Tubman alleged that the first round had been rigged in Sirleaf’s favour and called on his supporters to boycott the run-off.
During the said election, the Electoral Institute for Sustainable Democracy in Africa reported a turnout of 61% as compared to the 74.9% turnout in the first round.
After the November 8 2011 run-off, NEC declared Sirleaf the winner of the run-off on 15 November 2011 with 90.7% of the vote.
We note that the above elections were a major competitive process in which Weah was defeated rendering the claim made by the blog untrue. At the level of footballing, we found no record of Weah competing for any elected position.
Conclusion: Based on our research, Sine Liberia is incorrect in its assertion that the president has never been defeated in any major competition. Therefore, the claim is misleading.