It is a case of out with the new and in with the much older, in the Liberian Presidential election, as 78 year old Joseph Boakai, polls better in the second round than incumbent George Weah.
After neither candidate managed to garner sufficient votes, for an outright win, the race went to a run off.
A few hours ago, the former international footballer, conceded to his rival. With over 90% of the votes counted, Boakai’s lead of 28,000 was all but unassailable.
In his concession speech, Weah emphasised his regard for the Democratic process.
“I stand before you tonight with a heavy heart” he said, “but with the utmost respect for the democratic process that has defined our nation. The results announced tonight though not final, indicate that Ambassador Joseph N Boakai in a lead that is insurmountable. A few moments ago, I spoke with President-elect Joseph N Boakai to congratulate himon his victory and to offer my sincere commitment to working with him for the betterment of our beloved Liberia…”
The result is a reversal of the 2018 elections which brought Weah to power, defeating Boakai, by a wide margin.
Weah came to power on a wave of enthusiasm from young people especially, but his popularity waned. He came under criticism for failing to tackle corruption, and economic mismanagement.
The now outgoing President came to prominence as one of the world’s most celebrated professional footballers. He was first introduced to European football by Arsene Wenger, who signed him for Monaco. From there, he was fought over by Europe’s major clubs, including Paris Saint Germain, AC Milan, and towards the end of his career, in the UK Premiere league, with Manchester City and Chelsea. Regarded as one of the greatest footballers of his generation, he won the Ballon D’or in 1995, and named FIFA world player of the year.
This is the fourth relatively peaceful election in Liberia, since the end of a savage civil war, in 2003, which claimed an estimated quarter of a million lives. The eventual victor, Charles Taylor, is in prison in the UK, where he is serving a long sentence for war crimes.
George Weah will remain as head of state until January 2024, when he will handover to now President-elect, Josepth Boakai.