Following a tight presidential run-off, Liberian leader and football hero George Weah announced that it was “time to put national interest above personal interest” and conceded loss to opposition leader Joseph Boakai.
Weah had stated in a speech on national radio late on Friday that, “The results announced tonight, though not final, indicate that… Boakai is in a lead that we cannot surpass.”
With almost 51 percent of the ballots cast in Liberia, Boakai was ahead in the most recent and nearly complete figures in the oldest nation in Africa established by freed American slaves.
He said his CDC party “has lost the election but Liberia has won,” adding: “This is the time for graciousness in defeat”.
After Tuesday’s second-round voting, more than 99.5 percent of polling places reported vote totals, and the electoral commission stated that Boakai had received 50.89 percent of the votes cast.
Based on numbers released on Friday, Boakai had 28,000 more votes than Weah. With Weah having a narrow nationwide lead of 7,126 votes, the two came in neck and neck in the first round last month.
Weah said he had spoken to Boakai “to congratulate him on his victory”.
“The Liberian people have spoken, and we have heard their voice. However, the closeness of the results reveals a deep division within our country,” Weah said in his speech.
“Let us heal the divisions caused by the campaign and come together as one nation and one united people.”
Weah promised to “continue to work for the good of Liberia” while serving as president until the transfer of power in January.
Meanwhile, International observers, including the European Union, the United States, and the Economic Community of West African States have commended Liberia for holding a peaceful election.
The United States congratulated “President-elect Boakai on his victory and President Weah for his peaceful acceptance of the results”.
“We call on all citizens to follow President Weah’s example and accept the results,” US State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said in a statement.
The Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS, said the poll was “largely” peaceful, but noted isolated incidents that led to “injuries and hospitalizations” in four provinces.