Liberian President George Weah conceded defeat late Friday after provisional results from this week’s runoff vote showed challenger Joseph Boakai beating him by just over a percentage point.
The country’s elections commission reported on Friday that 78-year-old Boakai, a former vice president, secured a narrow victory with 50.9 percent of the vote, while Weah garnered 49.1 percent, with nearly all votes counted. Weah gracefully acknowledged the outcome in a speech on national radio, stating, “The results announced tonight, though not final, indicate that Boakai is in a lead that we cannot surpass.” He emphasized the importance of graciousness in defeat, acknowledging that despite his party’s loss, Liberia emerged as the ultimate winner
“The Liberian people have spoken and we have heard their voice,” Weah said in an address to the nation.
“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 when Boakai’s six-year term in office ends.
The results mark a considerable shift compared with 2017 when former international football star Weah had succeeded in defeating Boakai comfortably by garnering 62 percent of the vote.
Weah said he had “the utmost respect for the democracy process that has defined our nation.”
In an interview with Reuters, Boakai expressed excitement about the citizens’ approval and outlined his priorities, stating, “First and foremost, we want to have a message of peace and reconciliation.” Liberia, still recovering from two civil wars between 1989 and 2003 and an Ebola outbreak in the mid-2010s, faces significant challenges.
Boakai’s victory signifies a comeback for the 78-year-old, previously known as “Sleepy Joe,” who ran on a platform emphasizing economic investment through agricultural programs, infrastructure development, and prioritizing health and education. Boakai’s focus on these key areas aims to address the pressing needs of a nation seeking to rebuild and progress.