The new president of Liberia, Joseph Boakai, on Wednesday, November 22, called for unity and rallying behind him for his first speech since he was officially elected on Monday by a very narrow majority. Mr Boakai, 78, a veteran of Liberian politics, won with 50.64% of the vote, compared to 49.36% for his opponent George Weah, a former football star and outgoing president.

“The elections are now over and we must come together as one people to rebuild our country,” he said in a speech to the press. “I implore all Liberians, regardless of ethnicity, country, religion and political party affiliation, to join us in this journey to save our country,” he stressed.

As of Friday evening, Mr. Weah, elected in 2017, recognized the victory of his opponent in view of the almost final results, attracting praise for thus promoting a non-violent transfer of power.

For a “smooth and peaceful” transition

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

Beyond the choice of the person called to lead this country in search of stability after the years of civil war and the Ebola epidemic, one of the challenges of the election was the peaceful and regular conduct of the vote. As well as the acceptance of the results, while democracy in West Africa has been battered in recent years by a succession of coups d’état (Mali, Burkina, Guinea and Niger).

The new president promised to “expand development throughout the country”, in particular by building roads in the southeast region, “neglected for years”. As during his campaign, he recalled that the fight against corruption will be one of his fights and indicated that in the coming days he would put in place a plan for a “gentle and peaceful” transition.

He also declared that he would carry out “radical” reform of security and justice and enforce the rule of law. He finally presented his condolences to all the victims of the accident which mourned the celebrations of his supporters Monday evening after a car drove into the crowd for an unknown reason, killing at least three people.