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Liberia President George Weah concedes defeat to opposition

Outgoing Liberia President George Weah

Outgoing Liberia President George Weah

Liberian President George Weah conceded defeat after provisional results from this week's runoff vote showed challenger Joseph Boakai beating him by just over 1 percentage point.

Elections officials said that with 99.58% of ballots counted from Tuesday's election, Boakai was in the lead, with 50.89% to Weah's 49.11%. The results were a dramatic reversal from the election six years ago when Weah easily beat Boakai in the second round.

"The Liberian people have spoken, and we have heard their voice," Weah said in an address to the nation, adding that Boakai "is in a lead that we cannot surpass."

"I urge you to follow my example and accept the result of the elections," he said, adding that "our time will come again" in 2029.  

The concession speech given even before official results were announced in Liberia comes at a time when there have been growing concerns about the decline of democracy in West Africa. The region has seen a spate of military coups over the last several years, including one earlier this year in Gabon in the aftermath of a presidential election.

Weah said he had "the utmost respect for the democracy process that has defined our nation."

The 57-year-old former international soccer star won the 2017 election after his promise to fight poverty and generate infrastructure development. It was the first democratic transfer of power in the West African nation since the end of the country's back-to-back civil wars between 1989 and 2003 that killed some 250,000 people.

But Weah has been accused of not living up to key campaign promises that he would fight corruption and ensure justice for victims of conflict.

Tuesday's second round lived up to expectations of an extremely tight contest following the first round last month in which Weah got 43.83% of the votes and Boakai 43.44% to move on to the runoff. Boakai later managed to win endorsements from the candidates who finished third, fourth and fifth.  

Boakai, 78, served as vice president under Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Africa's first democratically elected female leader. He appeared to have an upper hand in the vote because of the many Liberians aggrieved over the unfulfilled promises of Weah to fix the country's ailing economy and stamp out corruption, said Ryan Cummings, director of Africa-focused Signal Risk consulting.

The outcome of the second round so far shows "public disaffection with his (Weah's) administration with Boakai considered a viable alternative for a lot of Liberians," Cummings said.

Weah is the only African to have won international soccer's Ballon d'Or. He played as a forward for Paris Saint-Germain, AC Milan, Chelsea and Manchester City during an 18-year club career. His 23-year-old son, Tim, now plays for Serie A club Juventus and the US national team.

Comments

+6 #1 Kidepwe 2023-11-20 10:28
Is it possible for certain characters and their apologists, on this side of the continent to learn from Liberia please?

The simple lesson to learn is that, there is life after power, and that, what the people freely and without any coercion decide, must carry the day.

But I guess, these are lessons that our dinosaurs in government in this part of the continent can't really learn. Who don't know when it's time to leave, even when they wet their pants in public, or have to move with toilets on wheels.
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+2 #2 Mubiru 2023-11-20 23:31
George Weah became a million dollar international football player because he obeyed and respected the rules of the football game. He couldn't dispute the referee's ruling in case he is shown the red card.

It is therefore not surprising that being used to respecting the rule of law Weah peacefully conceded defeat. Unlike in Uganda where during campaigns you would think that the country is about invaded due to myriads of armed forces jumping everywhere like ensenene in the disguised name of keeping peace.

Since when did peaceful Ugandans ever chosen the polling day to settle their differences by fighting?
In Uganda there is a demented belief that you have to use guns to bring peace. Weah never used guns.Hence the nonsense that mere ballot papers can't remove revolutionaries and self styled freedom fighters. Weah never killed people to lead Liberia
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0 #3 Lakwena 2023-11-22 08:16
God Bless George Weah and the Liberians.

In other words, unlike the one we are stuck with for the last 38 years and counting; former President, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and George Weah, have set the pace and precedence, to bring an end to the vicious cycle of "Bloody Unconstitutional Problem of Africa" for the people of Liberia.
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