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Liberian President George Weah to Seek Re-election

FILE - Liberian President George Weah speaks during his inauguration ceremony in Monrovia, Liberia, Jan. 22, 2018.
FILE - Liberian President George Weah speaks during his inauguration ceremony in Monrovia, Liberia, Jan. 22, 2018.

Liberian President George Weah announced Monday that he would stand for re-election later this year.

The announcement comes amid mounting criticism of Weah, who is accused of being out of touch with the population who are reeling under rising prices and food shortages.

“My fellow citizens, I will be coming to you shortly to ask you to renew (...) for a second time the mandate that you gave me six years ago,” Weah said in his annual State of the Nation address.

The election is slated for October 10.

Weah, who is also a former international football star, came to power in 2018 after winning an October 2017 election. The 56-year-old was absent from the West African nation for more than a month late last year, prompting criticisms.

He went abroad at the end of October for a string of political gatherings in several countries, including a chance to watch his footballer son, Timothy Weah represent the United States at the World Cup in Qatar.

Until Dec. 18 last year, Weah was not seen in his homeland, where people have been battling soaring prices and shortages of basic goods.

On Dec. 17, several hundred Liberians had held peaceful protests at the invitation of the opposition to denounce what they term “the incompetence” and Weah's indifference to the plight of ordinary Liberians.

Fighting corruption had been one of Weah's major campaign promises, but in September he accepted the resignations of three close allies after the U.S. accused them of corruption.

Weah had initially suspended the men from their roles after Washington imposed sanctions on them over allegations tied to multi-million-dollar contracts and at least $1.5 million in diverted public funds.

Graft remains endemic, with watchdog Transparency International ranking Liberia 136th of 180 countries in its 2021 corruption perceptions index.

Founded as a colony in 1822 by former U.S. slaves, Liberia became a republic 25 years later — Africa's first. The country's first female President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf ruled between 2006 and 2018.

It is still recovering from back-to-back civil wars that left 250,000 people dead.