West Africa: Shake-up for the status quo.

Author:Davies, Desmond

We present current news and views from four West African countries: Liberia, Sierra Leone, Cote d'Ivoire and The Gambia.

Liberia: Presidential run-off favours Weah

In Liberia, former World Footballer of the Year George Weah is trying to change things. Having come out top during the 10 October presidential election, he was preparing for a run-off when the result was challenged by Vice-President Joseph Boakai and other opposition candidates.

Their gripe was that the National Elections Commission (NEC) did not run the process in the right manner, and that there should be a re-run of the election. For Boakai, who is representing the ruling Unity Party, it was a strange challenge; it has invariably been opposition parties in Africa complaining about ruling party interference with electoral commissions, not the other way round.

But Boakai, it would seem, is not favoured by the outgoing president, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. He is being backed by politicians who fell out with the president over the issue of curbing corruption. And as such, it is noted, Johnson Sirleaf would prefer to see Weah at the helm. He is said to look up to her for inspiration. On 7 December, though, the Supreme Court ruled that there should be a run-off--not the re-run that Boakai was hoping for. He will now face Weah in an election set to take place on 26 December.

It is looking clear that Weah could land the presidency, and with Jewel Howard Taylor as vice-president. What a turn up for the books this would be: she is the wife of ex-President Charles Taylor, who is serving a 50-year jail sentence for crimes in Sierra Leone during that country's civil war.

Sierra Leone: Yumkella leads presidential challenge

In March, President Ernest Koroma of Sierra Leone is expected to say farewell to the country's leadership, having served two mandatory five-year terms. So, Sierra Leoneans are expecting a new leader. But whether he will come from the ruling All People's Congress (APC) is another matter.

The country is gearing up for what could turn out to be closely fought presidential, parliamentary and local elections. The former director-general of the UN Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO), Dr Kandeh K. Yumkella (pictured right), one of the presidential candidates representing the recently formed National Grand Coalition (NGC), appears to be presenting a formidable challenge, as he appeals to the youth vote.

It has not been a laughing matter this time round for the APC, a party...

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