Monrovia, Liberia – Liberian President and former football star George Weah has conceded defeat to opposition leader Joseph Boakai in a tight presidential runoff, marking a significant political shift in the West African nation.
With nearly all votes counted, Boakai secured 50.89 percent of the vote, while Weah garnered 49.11 percent, according to Liberia’s election commission.
In a concession speech late Friday, Weah acknowledged his defeat and urged Liberians to unite in the nation’s best interest.
“The results announced tonight, though not final, indicate that Boakai is in a lead that we cannot surpass,” Weah said on national radio.
“This is the time for graciousness in defeat,” he added, emphasizing his party’s commitment to a peaceful transition of power.
Boakai, 78, had lost to Weah in a landslide defeat in the 2017 presidential election. This time, however, he emerged from a tightly contested first round to face Weah in the runoff.
While Weah’s presidency had brought high hopes for change, he faced criticism over allegations of corruption and unfulfilled promises to address poverty and infrastructure challenges.
“Liberia has won,” Weah stated, acknowledging the country’s democratic progress despite his defeat.
International observers have commended Liberia for holding a largely peaceful election, despite isolated incidents of violence.
The United States, Liberia’s traditional ally, congratulated Boakai and commended Weah for conceding defeat.
“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.