In a significant political development, Liberia’s incumbent president and football icon, George Weah, conceded defeat on Friday evening, acknowledging opposition leader Joseph Boakai’s victory with 50.89 percent of the vote.
Weah, speaking on national radio, expressed graciousness in defeat, emphasizing the need to prioritize national interest over personal concerns.
According to the electoral commission’s results from over 99 percent of polling stations, Weah secured 49.11 percent of the votes, trailing Boakai by just over 28,000 votes.
Boakai, a seasoned politician with four decades of experience, received congratulations from Weah, who noted the closeness of the results, revealing a deep division within the country.
The elections, marking Liberia’s first since the conclusion of the United Nations peacekeeping mission in 2018, drew attention as Boakai’s supporters celebrated outside party offices in the capital, Monrovia.
The absence of voter turnout figures for the 2.4 million eligible voters adds an element of speculation to the overall electoral landscape.
Boakai’s political journey, having served as vice president from 2006 to 2018 under Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Africa’s first elected female president, positions him as a figure with substantial experience. This election marks Boakai’s second attempt at the presidency, following his 2017 run-off loss to President Weah. Throughout the campaign, Boakai criticized Weah’s record and emphasized his own extensive political background, presenting a “rescue plan” for Liberia.
Boakai’s proposed initiatives include infrastructure improvement, agricultural investment, attraction of foreign investment, promotion of tourism, and the restoration of Liberia’s reputation. His campaign successfully highlighted issues such as an influx of illicit drugs, an increased poverty rate, and a diminished global image under Weah’s presidency.
Boakai’s strategic approach yielded positive results, with a notable shift from his previous electoral performance. In the 2017 run-off, Boakai secured 28.8 percent in the first round and 38.5 percent in the second. However, in this year’s election, he pulled level with Weah in the first round, both receiving approximately 43 percent of the vote. The final tally in the run-off revealed Boakai as the victor with 50.89 percent against Weah’s 49.11 percent.
As Liberia awaits the transition of power, Boakai’s win signifies a shift in leadership dynamics, with expectations high for him to deliver on his promises and steer the country towards progress and stability. The close election results underscore the challenges of bridging deep divisions within the nation.