…Election adjudged as best in Africa
In a behavour widely described as the hallmark of a good sportsman akin to that of Goodluck Jonathan of Nigeria in 2015, Liberian President and football legend, George Weah conceded defeat to the opposition leader Joseph Boakai after a tight presidential run-off, saying it was time to put national interest above personal interest.
Weah, a sitting president, who could have decided to pull the roof on Liberians to manipulate the outcome of the exercise, threw in the towel even before the last whistle.
With more than 99.5 percent of the polling stations reporting vote tallies after Tuesday’s second-round vote, Boakai had garnered 50.89 percent of ballots cast, according to the election commission.
Boakai was 28,000 votes ahead of Weah, according to Friday’s figures. The two finished neck-and-neck in the first round last month, with a national lead of just 7,126 votes for Weah.
In an election, already being called the best in Africa by international observers, latest results showed Boakai leading with nearly 51 percent of the votes in Liberia, Africa’s oldest republic founded by freed American slaves.
“The results announced tonight, though not final, indicate that… Boakai is in a lead that we cannot surpass,” Weah said in a speech on national radio late on Friday, November 17.
He said his CDC party has lost the election but Liberia has won, adding: “This is the time for graciousness in defeat”.
Boakai, aged 78, lost to Weah, 57, by a large margin in the second-round presidential vote in 2017.
The election of Weah, the first African footballer to win both FIFA’s World Player of the Year trophy and the Ballon d’Or, had sparked high hopes of change in Liberia, which is still suffering from back-to-back civil wars and the 2014-2016 Ebola epidemic.
But critics have accused his government of corruption and him of failing to keep to his promises.
The United States congratulated president-elect Boakai on his victory and President Weah for his peaceful acceptance of the results.
“We call on all citizens to follow President Weah’s example and accept the results,” US State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said in a statement.
Weah said he had spoken to Boakai to congratulate him on his victory.
“The Liberian people have spoken, and we have heard their voice. However, the closeness of the results reveals a deep division within our country,” Weah said in his speech.
“Let us heal the divisions caused by the campaign and come together as one nation and one united people.”
Weah who remains president until the handover of power in January pledged to continue to work for the good of Liberia.
It will be the second peaceful handover of power from one democratically-elected government from another in two decades.