Joseph Boakai was on Monday declared the winner of Liberia’s presidential election.
Boakai got 50.64% of the vote, beating incumbent George Weah, who received 49.36% – a margin of just 20,567 votes.
The outgoing president praised the admission of defeat
Weah conceded defeat on Friday night, based on results from more than 99.9% of polling stations.
“Liberia won,” Weah said on the radio.
He said he spoke to Boakai, whom he called “the president-elect” to congratulate him.
“This is the time to be gracious in defeat,” he said, adding “our time will come again”.
He was praised by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) for allowing the defeat and initiating a non-violent transition of power.
“Liberians have shown once again that democracy is alive in the ECOWAS region and that change is possible through peaceful means,” ECOWAS said.
The bloc condemned the military coups that seized power in four of the fifteen member countries and threatened to intervene militarily in Niger to restore civilian government.
Similarly, the African Union said it “admires the statesmanship” of Weah, while also congratulating Boakai on the victory.
Nigerian President Bola Ahmed Tinubu also praised Weah’s statement conceding the election defeat.
“He defies the stereotype that peaceful transfer of power is unsustainable in West Africa,” Tinubu said.
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Boakai is a veteran politician who served as vice president between 2006 and 2018 and previously as agriculture minister. He campaigned on a promise to “save” Liberia from many issues, especially corruption and lack of basic services. After the victory, the president-elect said he would closely review the mining concessions to ensure they benefit Liberia.
“To be frank with you, the mining sector has become one of the problems of this country. I see our resources being exploited and people’s lives remain worse,” said Boakai to the Reuters news agency.
Weah, who was the first African soccer player to win the FIFA World Player of the Year trophy and Ballon d’Or, took power six years ago.
Critics have accused corruption and failure to improve living conditions for poor Liberians.
sdi/rt (AFP, Reuters)