Home » Football legend George Weah loses to rival Boakai in Liberia’s presidential race

Football legend George Weah loses to rival Boakai in Liberia’s presidential race

by Lesley Ngwa
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  • George Weah, incumbent president of Liberia, has lost the presidential run-off election on November 14, 2023, with 49.11% of the votes
  • The Ballon d’or winner, who had won the first round of the election by a narrow margin, conceded defeat to Boakai after the electoral commission announced the provisional results on Friday
    The run-off election was the second time that Weah and Boakai faced each other in a presidential contest

Liberia’s president and football legend George Weah has conceded defeat to his rival Joseph Boakai in the presidential run-off election.

Boakai, the former vice-president, won 50.89% of the votes, while Weah got 49.11%, according to the provisional results announced by the National Elections Commission on Friday.

Weah, who had won the first round of the election in October by a slim margin, accepted the choice of the people , congratulating rival Boakai, while wishing him well in his new role.

“The results announced tonight (Friday), though not final, indicate that (Ambassador Joseph N.) Boakai is in a lead that is insurmountable,” Weah said on national radio Friday night. “A few moments ago, I spoke with President-elect Boakai to congratulate him on his victory and to offer my sincere commitment to working with him for the betterment of our beloved Liberia.” Xinhua news reports

The 56-years-old, is widely regarded as one of the greatest African footballers of all time. He played for clubs such as AC Milan, Chelsea, and Paris Saint-Germain, and won the FIFA World Player of the Year award in 1995. He became president in 2018, after defeating Boakai in a run-off. He ran on the platform of the Coalition for Democratic Change, promising to improve education, health, and infrastructure.

Despite his loss, George Weah thanked his supporters and urged them to accept the outcome peacefully.

“Tonight, the CDC has lost the election, but Liberia has won. This is a time for graciousness in defeat, a time to place our country above party, and patriotism above personal interest. I remain your president until the handover of power, and I will continue to work for the good of Liberia,” the Liberian leader said, adding “Let us heal the divisions caused by the campaign and come together as one nation and one united people.”

This was the second time that Weah and Boakai competed for the presidency. In 2017, Weah had defeated Boakai by a wide margin in the run-off, ending the 12-year rule of Africa’s first female president, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.

The run-off election was seen as a test of Liberia’s democracy, which had emerged from a brutal civil war that ended in 2003. The international community praised the peaceful conduct of the election and urged the candidates and their supporters to respect the outcome.

Boakai is expected to be sworn in as Liberia’s 25th president on January 16, 2024. He will face the challenge of leading a country of 5 million people that is still recovering from the legacy of war, disease, and underdevelopment.

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