MONROVIA, Liberia – Former Liberian vice president and standard bearer of the major opposition Unity Party (UP) Joseph Boakai has been declared winner of the 2023 presidential elections by a razor-thin margin.
Boakai, the winner of the runoff election, got 814,481 votes or 50.64 percent compared to his opponent, incumbent President George Weah, a former international soccer star who earned 793,914 votes, or 49.36 percent, National Elections Commission (NEC) Chairperson Davidetta Brown Lansanah said. The electoral commission said 1,634,182 of the country’s 2,471,617 registered voters went to the polls on Nov. 14.
The announcement sparked massive jubilation in Monrovia, Liberia’s capital, with many singing “George Weah Go, We Tired”, a song that was like an anthem for the opposition during the campaign period. Weah’s popularity declined over the years as Liberia’s economic problems increased. A first round of elections in October resulted in 43.83 percent of the votes for Weah and 43.44 percent for Boakai.
President-elect Boakai has received tons of congratulatory messages from national and international partners who deemed the elections as free, fair, transparent and credible.
78 years old President-elect Joe Boakai is yet to address his supporters and the entire nation since the final announcement of the result by the country’s National Elections Commission.
President Weah concedes defeat
Before the pronouncement of the final result of the runoff election, outgoing President Weah conceded defeat to opposition leader Boakai.
Weah said in an address to the nation on Friday, Nov. 17, that the election results indicated that Boakai was in a lead that Weah’s party, the Coalition for Democratic Change, could not surpass.
“The results announced tonight, though not final, indicate that Ambassador Joseph N. Boakai is in a lead that we cannot surpass,” Weah said. “Therefore, a few minutes ago, I spoke with President-elect Joseph N. Boakai to congratulate him on his victory.”
He added, “Tonight, as we acknowledge the results, let us also recognize that the true winners of these elections are the people of Liberia. Through your peaceful and orderly exercise of your constitutional right to vote, you have once again demonstrated your commitment to the democratic principles that bind us together as a nation.”
Weah also expressed satisfaction that the elections were conducted smoothly.
“Under my leadership, these elections were organized with a promise to the Liberian people – a promise of fairness, peace, inclusiveness, transparency, and credibility,” Weah said. “I am proud to say that we have fulfilled that promise. The Liberian people have spoken, and we have heard their voice.”
The closeness of the results reveals a deep division within Liberia and as the transition takes place, Liberians must be vigilant to the dangers of division, and work together to find common ground, Weah said.
“Now, more than ever, unity is paramount for the love of Mama Liberia,” Weah said.
Biden congratulates President-elect Boakai
U.S. President Biden congratulated the government and people of Liberia for the peaceful and professional manner in which the 2023 elections were handled.
“These free and fair elections and presidential runoff demonstrated Liberians’ commitment to making their voices heard through the ballot box, and I look forward to working together to continue deepening the ties between our nations and people in the years ahead,” Biden said in the statement.
He also congratulated outgoing President Weah for respecting the will of the Liberian voters and putting patriotism above politics.
West African governments hail fair elections in Liberia
The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in a statement said Liberians have demonstrated that democracy is alive in the ECOWAS region and that change is possible through peaceful means.
Expectations of Liberians
Abdullai Alieu Sesay, a resident of Monrovia and a staunch supporter of the Unity Party of President-elect Joseph Boakai, told Black News & Views that the Boakai administration will do everything possible to restore the sanity of Liberia.
“We voted our leader Joe Boakai because we believe in his clean public record and his wisdom to lead the nation to prosperity,” Sesay said.
It is no secret that the Weah administration let the Liberian people down.
According to Sesay, since the founding of Liberia in 1822, it has got to face bad leadership, so it is the expectation of Liberians that the new administration will bring about good governance and strengthen democratic institutions.
Francis Kyne lives in Logan Town, a suburb of Monrovia, and is a member of President Weah’s Coalition for Democratic Change. He told Black News & Views that the past administrations of former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and outgoing President George Weah have created the path through which Boakai and his future administration can follow to do better for Liberia.
“Mrs Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and Mr. George Weah have set the pace for Mr. Boakai to follow to make Liberia a better country,” Kyne said.
“For me, the action taken by the outgoing Liberian leader shows to the world who he is and how peaceful he is,” Kyne continued.
“It is a good demonstration that many Liberians have to follow in order to keep this place peaceful. Elections are over, Liberians have made a decision to let Mr. President go and that is it. Let us all come together, reconcile the nation and look up to the new administration.”