Liberian President George Weah conceded defeat to opposition leader Joseph Boakai on Friday, marking the end of a presidency overshadowed by corruption allegations. Boakai, a former vice president, secured victory with 50.9% of the vote, while Weah trailed at 49.1%, according to the country’s elections commission.
This outcome contrasts sharply with the 2017 election when Weah, a global soccer legend, won with 62% support, leaving many disillusioned with the lack of progress in addressing issues like poverty and unemployment.
The election, occurring two decades after the end of Liberia’s devastating civil wars, held particular significance. The absence of the United Nations mission, present since 2003 to ensure post-war peace, marked a new chapter in the country’s political landscape. Weah’s concession not only ensures a smooth transition but also signifies Liberia’s second democratic transfer of power in more than seven decades.
The campaign period, marred by incidents and deaths, raised concerns about the potential aftermath, given the history of the nation. Boakai’s supporters celebrated in the capital, Monrovia, as the near-final results were announced. At 78, Boakai, a seasoned politician, will lead the impoverished nation for the next six years, succeeding Weah, who had previously swept to power in 2017.
Boakai’s victory over Weah, a popular figure among young people, reflects a shift in public sentiment. Despite criticisms of Weah’s unfulfilled promises to combat poverty and corruption, Boakai’s previous defeat in 2017 was avenged in a closely contested election. The results highlight the evolving political landscape in Liberia and set the stage for Boakai’s leadership as he takes the helm of a country still grappling with challenges despite the end of civil conflicts.