Liberia Election: George Weah Concedes to Joseph Boakai in Polls

President George Weah, the football legend, conceded defeat to opposition leader Joseph Boakai after a contested Liberia presidential run-off. This concession, via a national radio address on November 17, 2023, a commitment to prioritizing national interest over personal ambition for a transition of power in Africa’s oldest republic.

Liberia Election: George Weah Concedes to Joseph Boakai in Polls

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The election results, though not final, indicated that Boakai had secured nearly 51 percent of the votes, leading Weah to the inevitable.

Boakai’s lead of 28,000 votes showcased a shift from the 2017 second-round presidential vote, where Weah had won by a large margin. This reversal suggests changing sentiments among the Liberian electorate.

Weah, the first African footballer to clinch both FIFA’s World Player of the Year and the Ballon d’Or, initially came into power in 2017 with promises of change.

The nation, still struggling with the back-to-back civil wars and the 2014-2016 Ebola epidemic, had high hopes for a brighter future under his leadership.

However, critics accused his government of corruption, and he faced allegations of failing to fulfill commitments to uplift the lives of the poorest citizens.

The United States, through its State Department spokesman Matthew Miller, congratulated President-elect Boakai on his victory and commended President Weah for accepting the election results. Others, including the European Union, praised Liberia for conducting a peaceful election.

The speech by President Weah highlighted the need for unity and healing in a nation that experienced divisions during the election campaign.

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Weah acknowledged the close results as indicative of a divided country, addressing the importance of coming together as one united people.

This message resonates as Liberia strives for reconciliation after a history by civil unrest and external interventions, including the United Nations’ peacekeeping mission that concluded in 2018.

Joseph Boakai’s victory brings a political hand to the presidency, as he had previously served as vice president to Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Africa’s first elected female head of state, from 2006 to 2018.

Boakai’s political experience positions him to address the challenges facing Liberia, a nation of approximately five million people and one of the world’s poorest countries, where more than a fifth of the population lives on less than $2.15 a day.

The transfer of power from Weah to Boakai is a milestone for Liberia, the second such transition in two decades. The elections, held after the conclusion of the UN peacekeeping mission.

International observers, including ECOWAS (Economic Community of West African States), noted the largely peaceful nature of the election. However, incidents in four provinces resulted in injuries and hospitalizations.

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Boakai’s victory is particularly against the backdrop of a region where military coups have become common.

The peaceful resolution of the election in Liberia stands in contrast to the challenges faced by neighboring nations, where coups and election results have threatened democratic processes.

President Weah’s decision to defeat even before the official results were announced to democratic principles and sets a positive example for the region.

In a time when democratic norms are under threat, Weah’s actions underlines the importance of upholding the democratic process and respecting the will of the people.

The economic challenges facing Liberia, by the impact of the Ebola epidemic and years of civil strife, require astute leadership.

Boakai’s presidency comes at juncture, and his commitment to peace and reconciliation bodes well for a nation seeking stability.

As Boakai supporters celebrated in the streets of Monrovia, chanting slogans and expressing their optimism for change, it became evident that the Liberian people saw in him as a hope.

Boakai’s message of peace and reconciliation signals a national unity, essential for overcoming the divisions that emerged during the election campaign.

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