Football legend and Liberia President George Weah on Friday conceded election defeat to opposition leader Joseph Boakai after a tight race, to ensure a smooth transition of power in the once volatile West African nation.
With almost all the votes counted, the Liberian elections commission said on Friday that 78-year-old Boakai, a former vice president, led with 50.9% of the vote over 57-year-old Weah’s 49.1%.
it would be recalled that in 2017, Boakai had lost to Weah by a significant margin in the second-round presidential vote.
In a speech on national radio on Friday evening, Weah said, “A few moments ago, I spoke with president-elect Joseph Boakai to congratulate him on his victory. I urge you to follow my example and accept the results of the elections.”
“The results announced tonight, though not final, indicate that… Boakai is in a lead that we cannot surpass.”
He added that his CDC party “lost the election, but Liberia has won. This is the time for graciousness in defeat.”
Weah’s concession paves the way for Liberia’s second democratic transfer of power in over seven decades – the first was when Weah was elected as president six years ago.
The Liberian leader’s concession after a presidential election is seen as a big boost for democracy on the continent, and noteworthy example for African leaders, particularly in West and Central Africa which has witnessed at least six military coups in the last three year.
Meanwhile, in a statement, the US government through the US State Department spokesman, Matthew Miller, 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,” it stated.