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Liberia: President-Elect Boakai Calls for Unity in His First Speech

Liberia’s new president Joseph Boakai on Wednesday called for unity and unity behind him in his first speech since being officially elected on Monday by a very narrow margin.

Boakai, a veteran of Liberian politics, won with 50.64% of the vote, compared with 49.36% for his opponent George Weah, the former football star and incumbent president.

“The elections are now over and we must unite as one people to rebuild our country”, he declared in a speech to the press.

“I implore all Liberians, irrespective of their ethnic origin, county, religion or political party affiliations, to join us on this journey to save our country,” he said.

The new president promised to “extend development to the whole country”, in particular by building roads in the south-east region, which has been “neglected for years”. As during his campaign, he reiterated that the fight against corruption would be one of his priorities and indicated that he would be putting in place a plan for a “smooth and peaceful” transition in the next few days.

He also said that he would carry out a “radical” reform of the security and justice systems and ensure respect for the rule of law. 

He added that his administration would promote broad participation “of the people,” which will include Liberians in rural communities, in the country’s decision-making process.

Leading with example

“I promise to lead by example! I promise a Liberia that will benefit all Liberians,” Boakai added. “The Liberian state will no longer be used as a predatory tool by and for a few to the detriment of the majority of the people.”

Concluding his speech, he offered his condolences to all the victims of the accident that plunged his supporters’ celebrations into mourning on Monday evening after a car ploughed into the crowd for an unknown reason, killing at least three people.

According to local news outlet Liberiaobservers, the 78-year-old has been under pressure to form a government of “national unity” due to the closeness of the election.

Liberiaobserver further reported that the President-elect, disclosed that in the coming days, hewould announce members of a transitional team who will work with the outgoing government “for a smooth and peaceful transition.”

On Friday evening (Nov. 17), Ballon d’Or winner Weah, who was elected in 2017, conceeded his defeat in the light of the almost final results, winning praise for favouring a non-violent transfer of power.

“We all won. What has happened in our democracy over the last four days is a victory for Liberia and will be a legacy for us as a people and will mark posterity forever”, said Mr Boakai.

“Over and above the choice of the person called upon to lead this country in search of stability after years of civil war and the Ebola epidemic, one of the issues at stake in the election was the peaceful and regular conduct of the ballot.”

At a time when democracy in West Africa has been battered by a succession of coups d’état in recent years (Mali, Burkina Faso, Guinea and Niger), the acceptance of the results was seen by some observers as a key indicator.

Source: Africa News