International football stars and Liberians on Friday celebrated George Weah’s presidential victory in the West African country’s first democratic transfer of power after two devastating civil wars, as the former ace striker vowed to usher in change.
Idolised in Liberia as “Mister George”, Weah is set to replace Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, who in 2006 took over the country founded by freed US slaves. He was sworn in yesterday, January 22, 2018.
The 51-year-old, who grew up in grinding poverty, starred at European giants Paris Saint-German and AC Milan in the 1990s, before briefly playing for Chelsea and Manchester City toward the end of his career. He entered politics after retiring from football in 2002.
Electoral board president Jerome Korkoya confirmed Weah’s run-off victory Friday evening, following an official tally of results.
“I, acting on behalf of the board of commissioners, do hereby declare the presidential ticket of Senator George Weah and Jewel Howard-Taylor as the winner from the December 26, 2017 presidential run-off election,” Korkoya said.
Weah easily beat Vice President Joseph Boakai in Thursday’s run-off vote, gaining 61.5 percent of the ballot against 38.5 percent for his rival and winning in 14 of Liberia’s 15 counties.
“My fellow Liberians, I deeply feel the emotion of the entire nation. I measure the importance and the responsibility of the immense task which I embrace today. Change is on,” Weah said on Twitter.
Several former and current African Head of States including representatives from the European Union (EU), African Union (AU), the United Nations (UN) and the Economic Community for West African States (ECOWAS) graced the inauguration of Liberia’s 24th President, Senator George M. Weah and his Vice President, Senator Jewel Howard Taylor at the Samuel Kanyon Doe Sport Complex.
African heads of state that graced the colorful occasion include Faure Gnassingbe, Togo; Muhammadu Buhari, Nigeria; Alpha Conde, Guinea; Nana Akufo-Addo, Ghana; Ernest BaiKoroma, Sierra Leone; Jose Mario Vaz, Guinea Bissau; and Ali Bongo Ondimba, Gabon, also the former president of Ghana, Jerry John Rawlings and his wife also graced the occasion.
Taken the oath as Liberia’s next President, George Weah vowed to discharge his duties faithfully, and to the best of his ability, and “always in the interest of the sovereignty, integrity, solidarity, well-being, and prosperity” of Liberia.
In his inaugural speech, Liberian newest president on the bloc, George Weah told the gatherings how he spent many years of his life in stadiums but today, it is a feeling like no other, assuring his kinsmen, “I have taken an oath before you and before almighty God. Rest assured I will not let you down. This victory would not have been possible without the youth of this country, the women of this country who made their living selling in the market, this is your government.” Weah stressed.
The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Liberia, Justice Francis Korkpor administered the oath of office for both the President and his vice president, George Weah and Jewel Howard Taylor, as thousands of Liberians who had gathered as early as 6am on the Samuel Kanyon Doe Sports Complex.
Liberia has now been considered as ‘History Making’ Nation around the world; outgoing President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf became the first female President of Africa, now President George Weah is the first soccer player to be elected President, while Vice President Jewel Howard Taylor has also become the first female Vice President of Liberia.
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