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在线翻译:
szdaily -> Special Report
George Weah poised to become Liberia’s next president
    2017-December-29  08:53    Shenzhen Daily

AC Milan legend George Weah is on the verge of winning Liberia’s presidential election, his team has claimed.

The 51-year-old, considered one of Africa’s greatest-ever footballers, is aiming to succeed President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, who is stepping down after 12 years as the continent’s first elected female head of state.

On Wednesday, Weah’s campaign manager for operations, Morluba Morlu, predicted victory with 70 percent of the vote based on precinct-level vote tallies he said were trickling in from across the country after Tuesday’s vote.

The footballer has sparked controversy after naming Jewel Howard-Taylor, wife of cannibal warlord Charles Taylor, as his pick for vice president.

Charles Taylor is serving a 50-year sentence in Britain for war crimes committed in neighboring Sierra Leone, but his presence has loomed large over the election.

Weah, who played for AC Milan during a glittering career that saw him win the Ballon D’Or and FIFA World Player of the Year, took to Twitter on Wednesday to tell of his “deep emotion” and “to thank you, the Liberian people, for honoring me with your vote today. It is a great hope.”

Official results of Tuesday’s vote are expected in a few days, in what would be the West African country’s first democratic transition since 1944, according to electoral officials.

The ballot was delayed for seven weeks due to legal challenges lodged by vice president Joseph Boakai’s Unity Party against the electoral commission over the conduct of the first round of voting, but many of the complaints appeared to have been addressed in the second round.

The Liberia Elections Observation Network, which had more than 1,000 observers stationed across the country, hailed a vote it said had passed calmly with better organization than the first poll Oct. 10, as did observers from the European Union.

Former Nigerian president Goodluck Jonathan, who served as an electoral observer for the U.S.-based National Democratic Institute (NDI), said a successful resolution to the process was of particular importance within the international community.

“This transition is critical and if we succeed, if Liberia succeeds, West Africa succeeded and Africa succeeded,” he said.

“There has been no major incident to report of a technical nature and the voting was peaceful,” noted electoral commission chief Francis Korkoya.

But with the vote held the day after Christmas, some national and international observers warned that turnout may have been affected.

This is the first time in more than 70 years the nation founded by freed American slaves will see one democratically elected government hand power to another.

As Liberia’s most famous son, Weah attracts huge crowds and has a faithful youth following in a country where a fifth of the electorate is aged between 18 and 22. But he has been criticized for his performance in the Senate, where he has served since 2014. Nearly 2.2 million voters were choosing between Weah and 73-year-old Boakai.

Whoever wins the election faces an economy battered by lower commodity prices for its main exports of rubber and iron ore, and a rapidly depreciating currency.

Sirleaf guided the nation out of ruin following back-to-back 1989-2003 civil wars and through the horrors of the 2014-16 Ebola crisis, but is accused of failing to combat poverty and tackle corruption.

Living standards in Liberia remain among the worst in the world.

Early years

Weah was born on Oct. 1, 1966 in the slums of Monrovia, Liberia. Raised by his grandmother after his parents separated, Weah grew up on the streets of one of the city’s worst slums. Fortunately, he developed into a tall, athletic teenager, and began playing soccer for the Young Survivors youth club at 15. He moved on to other prominent local clubs as his skills progressed, assuming starring roles for Mighty Barrolle and Invincible Eleven.

At 22, Weah was discovered by Cameroon national team coach Claude Le Roy, who relayed news of Weah’s abilities to AS Monaco manager Arsène Wenger. Wenger flew to Africa to get a look for himself, and then signed Weah to his club.

European success

A raw talent with little formal training, Weah appeared overmatched early in his European career. However, the powerful 6’2” striker soon caught up to the competition and became a potent goal scorer for the 1991 French Cup champions.

A move to Paris Saint-Germain brought more acclaim for Weah, who helped his club win the French Cup in 1993 and the Ligue 1 title in 1994. Virtually unstoppable during the 1994-95 season, he carried PSG to French and Ligue Cup victories and finished as the Champions League’s leading scorer. In 1995, he was named the African, European and FIFA World Player of the Year.

Weah moved to AC Milan for the 1995-96 season and continued his impressive stretch by leading the club to the Serie A title. He scored the most famous goal of his career at the start of the following season.

Milan won the Serie A title again in 1999, but Weah fell out of favor with the club and was loaned to Chelsea in January 2000. The move revitalized the Liberian striker, who scored in his debut and became a key figure in Chelsea’s march to the FA Cup. He spent 2000-01 with Manchester City and Marseille, and then played two seasons with Al-Jazira before retiring in August 2003.

Weah was named African Player of the Year in 1989 and 1994, and was voted the African Player of the 20th century by the continent’s journalists. In 2004, he was named to the FIFA 100, a list of the sport’s greatest living players compiled by the legendary Pelé.

Liberia’s son

Weah became heavily involved in the affairs of his civil war-torn home country while still in the midst of his sports career. Named a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador in 1997, he took part in educational initiatives to help fight the spread of HIV/AIDS and to rehabilitate child soldiers with vocational training.

Realizing the importance of soccer as a stabilizing force in Liberia, Weah spent an estimated US$2 million of his own money on travel, equipment and salary expenses for the national team, the Lone Stars. Serving as player-manager, he led the Lone Stars on an impressive run through the 2002 World Cup qualifying rounds, but the team fell just short of invitation to soccer’s ultimate tournament.

Weah ran for Liberia’s presidency as a member of the Congress for Democratic Change in 2005, but lost in a run-off to Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of the Unity Party. In 2011, he was again on the CDC ticket, this time as vice president, but Sirleaf remained in office.

Despite the political setbacks, Weah remains an immensely influential and popular figure in his home country. Since June 2010, he has served as an ambassador for 1 Goal, a FIFA-supported campaign that aims to provide educational opportunities for disadvantaged children. In December 2012, Weah announced that he had agreed to represent Sirleaf’s administration as a peace ambassador.

(SD-Agencies)

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