He lost but won praise from abroad. Liberia’s outgoing President George Weah won international praise for immediately defeating the presidential election and fostering a non-violent transfer of power in a region plagued by power grabs. Political veteran Joseph Boakai, 78, former vice-president of Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the first woman elected head of state in Africa, was declared Monday the winner of the presidential election by the electoral commission after counting all the ballots. vote of November 14.

Joseph Boakai won with 50.64% of the vote, against 49.36% for George Weah, Davidetta Browne Lansanah, president of the commission (NEC), told the press. Joseph Boakai is only ahead of George Weah by 20,567 votes out of just over 1.6 million voters. George Weah admitted Friday evening that he had lost in view of the almost final results.

“Peaceful change is possible” in West Africa

Joseph Boakai has remained strangely silent, while his supporters have been celebrating since Friday across the country, dancing in the streets and waving flags bearing his image. Joseph Boakai’s campaign was distinguished by its discretion in the capital Monrovia. “Liberians have demonstrated once again that democracy is alive in the ECOWAS area and that change through peaceful means is possible,” responded the Economic Community of West African States in a communicated.

Since 2020, ECOWAS has been experiencing sudden regime changes. The military seized power by force in four of the fifteen member countries: Mali, Guinea, Burkina Faso and Niger. The 2020 presidential elections in Ivory Coast and Guinea were marked by violence and protests. Togo has been ruled by the Gnassingbé father and son for almost 60 years.

One of the challenges of the presidential election in Liberia was its peaceful and regular conduct and the acceptance of the results. The violence that occurred during the campaign and between the two rounds raised fears of a turbulent future. The history of Liberia, which emerged in 2003 from 14 years of almost uninterrupted civil war, played a role in this concern. George Weah, seeking a second term, largely dispelled it on Friday by bowing to Joseph Boakai.

“Exceptional leadership”

“Tonight, the CDC (the Coalition for Democratic Change, his party) lost the election but Liberia won. It’s time for elegance in defeat,” declared in a firm voice on the radio the man who already stood out for his class on the football fields. He exalted “democratic principles” at a time when they are being called into question in the region. He urged his supporters to “follow his lead and accept the results.” “Our time will come again,” said George Weah, 57, while his intentions after the official end of his presidency in January 2024 are not known.

Foreign partners welcomed the conduct of the election, which proved “peaceful” for the West African Community, the UN and the United States, an important ally of Liberia. They congratulated the winner. A special mention was awarded to George Weah. “President Weah has shown the qualities of an exemplary statesman,” declared on X (ex-Twitter) Goodluck Jonathan, former president of Nigeria, at the head of a mediation mission during the elections.

Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the president of Nigeria, an ECOWAS heavyweight, praised the “extraordinary leadership” and “democratic sportsmanship” of George Weah, “at a special moment in the history of South Africa. West where democracy is under attack by evil actors.” determined to overturn the will of the people. George Weah “countered the received idea that democratic transitions were untenable in West Africa,” declared Bola Ahmed Tinubu, elected in 2023 despite accusations of fraud from his opponents.

Several presidential elections are planned in 2024 in West Africa, in Senegal, in Ghana (members of ECOWAS), in Mauritania, theoretically in Mali and Burkina Faso, led by the military.

20 Minutes with AFP


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