Dec. 28 (UPI) -- With the majority of ballots counted Thursday in Liberia's presidential election, former soccer player George Weah has a large enough lead to defeat his opponent, Joseph Boakai, elections officials said.
The National Elections Commission released preliminary runoff election numbers, giving Weah, of the Coalition for Democratic Change Party, 61.5 percent of the vote and Vice President Boakai, of the Unity Party, 38.5 percent.
It will be Liberia's first democratic handover in more than 70 years.
Weah, 51, entered politics in 2002 after a career in soccer. He played for AC Milan, Chelsea and Paris St-Germain, winning both the Fifa World Player of the Year and the Ballon D'Or.
As news of his win spread, his supporters celebrated in the capital of Monrovia. His running mate, Jewel Taylor, is the ex-wife of former President Charles Taylor, who is serving a prison sentence for war crimes. Rebels ousted Charles Taylor from power in 2003, at which time Sirleaf was elected.