Political veteran Joseph Boakai was on Monday declared the winner of Liberia’s presidential election, beating incumbent George Weah, the National Electoral Commission (NEC) said after completing the ballot count.
Boakai won with 50.64 per cent of the vote, against 49.36 per cent of the vote for former football star Weah, Davidetta Browne Lansanah, president of the commission, told reporters.
Boakai won with only a 20,567-vote margin. Weah, already conceded defeat on Friday evening, based on the results of more than 99.98 per cent of the polling stations.
However, the commission head said on Friday it had received two appeals from Weah’s party concerning the conduct of the election in Nimba County. The commission has 30 days to investigate, she said.
Earlier, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) congratulated Liberians on the peaceful conduct of the elections. ECOWAS also congratulated Joseph Boakai on his election as President of Liberia and saluted President George Weah for graciously accepting the results of the elections.
At 78, Joseph Boakai is Liberia’s third democratically elected head of state. The former vice-president under Ellen Johnson Sirleaf took his revenge on incumbent president George Weah, who defeated him in 2018.
Boakai has attempted to craft a more energetic image after earning the unfortunate title of Sleepy Joe for his propensity to fall asleep at public events.
His opponents see his advanced age as a handicap and claim that he is out of touch with the younger generation in a country where 60% of the population is under 25. But his supporters emphasized his age and unwavering probity, claiming that he alone would be able to restore confidence in institutions and fight corruption. Boakai has pledged to invest in infrastructure and alleviate the extreme poverty still suffered by most Liberians.
A father of four, the former VP benefits from the backing of older voters who value the stability his party has brought after living through civil wars between 1989 and 2003.
Incumbent President, Weah, gracefully conceded the tight election on Friday before the final official tally was announced to mark a peaceful transfer of power in a region that has recently seen a plethora of military coups in recent years.