Brendan Smalowski/Joel Saget/AFP/Getty Images
Joseph Boakai, left, and George Weah
Liberian President George Weah has conceded defeat to opposition candidate Joseph Boakai after a close run-off election.
Weah, a former soccer star, called Boakai after the country’s national electoral commission announced preliminary results on Friday.
The country’s electoral commission said that after almost all the votes were counted, Boakai, the 78-year-old former vice president of Liberia, received 51% of the votes.
In an address to the nation, Weah said: “The results announced tonight, while not final, indicate that Ambassador Joseph N. Buckeye is progressing beyond our reach. So, a few minutes ago, I spoke with President-elect Joseph N. Boakai to congratulate him on his victory.
“Tonight, as we acknowledge the results, let us also realize that the real winners of this election are the people of Liberia,” he added.
President Weah was elected to office in 2018 and will step down in January.
The run-off began when Weah, 57, won an election held earlier in October by only 7,000 votes over his political rival, Boakai. However, he failed to meet the 50% threshold required for an outright victory.
Weah was seeking re-election for a second six-year term after a turbulent first term marred by corruption scandals and allegations of mismanagement.
He was praised for immediately conceding to ensure a peaceful transition of power, a milestone in Liberia’s fragile democracy, which has seen civil war and the killing of former leaders in office.
There has also been a wave of coups in West and Central Africa in recent years.
Nigeria’s President Bola Tinubu was among the first to congratulate the new president-elect, while also praising Weah’s great example, absolute patriotism, and statesmanship. “He challenged the stereotype that a peaceful transition of power is untenable in West Africa,” a statement issued by the Nigerian presidency said.
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