Liberia’s President, George Weah, has conceded defeat to opposition candidate Joseph Boakai after a tight run-off election.
Weah, a former soccer star, called Boakai after the country’s National Elections Commission (NEC) released provisional results on Friday.
Boakai, a 78-year-old former vice president of Liberia, won 51% of the votes, after the final results were tallied by the elections commission on Monday.
In an address to the nation, Weah said: “The results announced tonight, though not final, indicate that Ambassador Joseph N. Boakai is in a lead that we cannot surpass. Therefore, 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 recognize that the true winners of these elections are the people of Liberia,” he added.
In his victory speech on Monday, Boakai hailed his supporters, saying he was “incredibly proud and satisfied” to be endorsed by them as the country’s next president.
“My foremost priority and top-most national agenda remain the pursuit of national prosperity for our people,” he further said, adding that his government will “assert, boldly and unapologetically, an ambitious program of recovery … a path towards economic growth and development, … robust training and decent jobs for our youths, and social protection for our elderly and disabled citizens.”
President Weah was voted into office in 2018 and will step down in January.
A run-off was triggered when Weah, 57, secured a victory in an earlier October poll with a margin of just 7,000 votes over his political rival, Boakai. However, he fell short of the required 50% threshold necessary to clinch an outright victory.
Weah was seeking reelection for a second six-year term after a tumultuous first tenure tainted by corruption scandals and allegations of mismanagement.
He has been praised for immediately conceding ensuring, a peaceful transfer of power - a significant milestone in Liberia’s fragile democracy, which has seen civil war and previous leaders killed in office.
There have also been a spate 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 commending Weah’s “sterling example, undiluted patriotism, and statesmanship. He has defied the stereotype that peaceful transitions of power are untenable in West Africa,” a statement from Nigeria’s presidency said.