Following a closely contested presidential run-off, former football star and Liberian leader George Weah has conceded defeat to opposition leader Joseph Boakai, stating that it is time to prioritize national interest over personal interest.
Boakai currently leads with almost 51 percent of the votes, according to the latest results. Despite Weah’s initial victory in the second-round presidential vote in 2017, Boakai has now garnered 50.89 percent of the ballots cast, with a lead of 28,000 votes over Weah.
The election of Weah had raised hopes of change in Liberia, but his government has been criticized for corruption and failing to improve the lives of the poorest.
“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.
He said his CDC party “has lost the election but Liberia has won,” adding: “This is the time for graciousness in defeat”.
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.