George Weah, the Liberian President, has conceded defeat late Friday after provisional results from the week’s runoff vote showed opposition party candidate, Joseph Boakai, beating him by just over 1 percentage point.
Elections officials said that with 99.58% of ballots counted from Tuesday’s election, Boakai was in the lead, with 50.89% to Weah’s 49.11%. The results were a dramatic reversal from the election six years ago when Weah easily beat Boakai in the second round.
“The Liberian people have spoken, and we have heard their voice,” Weah said in an address to the nation, adding that Boakai “is in a lead that we cannot surpass.”
“I urge you to follow my example and accept the result of the elections,” he said, adding that “our time will come again” in 2029.
READ ALSO: Weah Promises Violent Free, Credible, Transparent Liberian Elections
The concession speech given even before official results were announced in Liberia comes at a time when there have been growing concerns about the decline of democracy in West Africa. The region has seen a spate of military coups over the last several years, including one earlier this year in Gabon in the aftermath of a presidential election.
Weah said he had “the utmost respect for the democracy process that has defined our nation.”
The 57-year-old former international soccer star won the 2017 election after his promise to fight poverty and generate infrastructure development. It was the first democratic transfer of power in the West African nation since the end of the country’s back-to-back civil wars between 1989 and 2003 that killed some 250,000 people.
SaharaReporters earlier reported that Boakai was set for victory in the Liberian presidential election after the latest tranche of results were announced by the electoral commission on Friday.
READ ALSO: I Doff My Heart To Tinubu, He Has Consigned Buhari’s Eight Years Into The Dustbin Of History – Reno Omokri Says President Is Courageous Like Awolowo
Liberians voted out President George Weah, who is also the candidate of the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) in the landmark election.
The 78-year-old political veteran has 50.89% of the votes, while incumbent President George Weah has 49.11%.
That represents a lead of more than 28,000 votes, with nearly all the ballots accounted for.
The latest results have sparked celebrations in the capital, Monrovia.
Boakai’s supporters have been gathering at his party’s headquarters in the city, convinced that he has won the election.
They have been shouting for President Weah to go and saying “we beat the Buga dancer”, referring to a song that became associated with his campaign.
This is the fourth election Liberia is holding in its recent history (since the end of its civil war).
Photo Credit: Getty