Liberia: Weah losses presidential election, congratulates Boakai

President George Weah of Liberia has been defeated in the second round of voting in his country’s presidential election held on Tuesday.

With 99.58 per cent of votes from the country’s 5,890 polling places counted, it is all but clear that former Vice President Joseph Boakai and candidate of the Unity Party has taken an unassailable lead.

Mr Boakai has so far garnered 814,212 votes of the available 1,625,684 votes, compared to the 785,778 scored by Mr Weah of the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change. Turnout at the election stands at 65.77 per cent.

As of 4 pm Friday, the former vice president led George Weah with 28, 434 votes. The total ballot outstanding for counting is 25,694, meaning that the former footballer cannot catch up with Mr Boakai even if he gets all the pending votes.

The first round of voting on October 10 did not yield a clear winner among the 20 presidential candidates participating, leading to the runoff between Messrs Weah and Boakai, the top two contenders.

Unlike the first round, where a winner must score over 50 per cent of the vote, a victor only needs a simple majority to be declared the winner of the second round.

Reports say the Liberian president has already accepted defeat. “A few moments ago, I spoke with president-elect Joseph Boakai to congratulate him on his victory,” George Weah is quoted to have said on national radio. “I urge you (his supporters) to follow my example and accept the results of the elections.

“Tonight, the CDC has lost the election, but Liberia has won. This is a time for graciousness in defeat, a time to place our country above party, and patriotism above personal interest . . . Let us heal the divisions caused by the campaign and come together as one nation and one united people.”

The United States Government has commended George Weah for accepting the outcome of the tightly contested election. “We congratulate President-elect Boakai on his victory and President Weah for his peaceful acceptance of the results,” the State Department said in a statement.

“The United States congratulates the people of Liberia on holding a peaceful presidential runoff election. We note the broad participation of Liberians across the country and applaud the commitment and dedication of Liberian citizens in exercising their right to vote and in engaging in the electoral process peacefully.

“Liberians deserve and expect free and fair, peaceful elections. We call on all citizens to follow President Weah’s example and accept the results. We congratulate Liberia’s institutions on a successful electoral process, especially the dedicated work of the National Elections Commission and the thousands of Liberians who worked the polls.”

More than 2.4 million Liberians were registered to vote during the election.

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