Liberia’s President George Weah concedes defeat to Joseph Boakai

FILE PHOTO: Liberia's opposition Unity Party Joseph Boakai waves to his supporters as holds his final campaign rally for the presidential elections in Monrovia, Liberia October 7, 2023. Reuters/Carielle Doe

Liberia’s President, George Weah, has acknowledged his defeat to opposition candidate Joseph Boakai following a closely contested run-off election. Weah, the former soccer star, reached out to Boakai after the National Elections Commission (NEC) of Liberia released provisional results on Friday.

The electoral commission reported that, with almost all ballots counted, Boakai, a 78-year-old former vice president, secured 51% of the votes.

In a national address, Weah stated, “The results announced tonight, though not final, indicate that Ambassador Joseph N. Boakai is in a lead that we cannot surpass. Therefore, a few minutes ago, I spoke with President-elect Joseph N. Boakai to congratulate him on his victory. Tonight, as we acknowledge the results, let us also recognize that the true winners of these elections are the people of Liberia,” he added.

President Weah, who assumed office in 2018, will step down in January. The run-off was triggered when Weah, 57, won the earlier October poll with a narrow margin of 7,000 votes over Boakai but fell short of the required 50% threshold for an outright victory.

Weah sought reelection for a second six-year term amid a tumultuous first tenure marred by corruption scandals and allegations of mismanagement. Despite these challenges, he received praise for promptly conceding, ensuring a peaceful transfer of power—an important milestone for Liberia’s fragile democracy, marked by civil war and previous leaders being killed in office.

Nigeria’s President Bola Tinubu congratulated the new President-elect, and outgoing President Weah for his “sterling example, undiluted patriotism, and statesmanship.” Nigeria’s presidency stated that Weah had defied stereotypes, demonstrating that peaceful transitions of power are viable in West Africa.

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