Liberia’s President-elect Joseph Boakai is sworn in on Monday (January 22) in Monrovia for a six-year term, following his late November victory over former soccer star George Weah, in a context where challenges linked to poverty, Corruption and impunity are numerous in the West African country.

Mr. Boakai, 79, is to be invested during a ceremony from 10 a.m. (GMT and local) in the courtyard of Parliament, in the presence of foreign delegations including heads of state, according to an official program. The veteran of Liberian politics, vice president from 2006 to 2018 under the presidency of Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and servant of the State for more than forty years, won the presidential runoff in November, with 50.64% of the votes. vote, compared to 49.36% for his opponent.

The vote was peaceful, in West Africa where democracy has been undermined in recent years by a succession of military coups (Mali, Burkina, Guinea, Niger). Mr. Weah, who defeated Mr. Boakai in 2017 in the second round, admitted defeat before his victory was made official, attracting international praise.

The new president will take office as the West African country of five million inhabitants, seeking stability after years of civil wars and an Ebola epidemic, is confronted in particular with corruption and a high level of poverty.

The major project in the fight against corruption

Mr. Boakai allied himself during the elections with local barons, such as former warlord Prince Johnson, who supported George Weah in 2017 and who still enjoys strong support in his province of Nimba (north-east). ). Mr. Johnson, who was videotaped sipping beer while his men tortured President Samuel Doe to death in 1990 and who is under U.S. sanctions for corruption, placed one of his men, Jeremiah Koung, in position of vice-president of Mr. Boakai.

“Expectations for Boakai’s presidency are high because of his experience of the State, his reputation for probity and someone who tried to live in the simplest way,” a former official told AFP. local elected official in Nimba County. “All [Liberian] leaders promised to crack down on corruption and improve economic conditions [of the people], but failed to do so. He [Mr. Boakai] must make a difference,” analyst Abdulla Kiatamban of the Geo Baraka Group of Strategists, a consulting organization, told AFP.

On the other hand, a drop in the prices of products such as gasoline and rice is expected, John Kollie, head of the NGO Liberia Media for Democratic Initiatives, told AFP. The president-elect called on Liberians to “unite as one people to rebuild our country,” in a rare public statement at the end of November, after his election. He promised to “extend development throughout the country”, in particular by building roads in the south-east region, “neglected for years”.

As during his campaign, Mr. Boakai recalled that the fight against corruption will be one of his fights and indicated that he would put in place a plan for a “smooth and peaceful” transition. He also stressed that he would carry out a “radical” reform of security and justice and enforce the rule of law.

For his part, outgoing President Weah announced that he was drawing a definitive line on the presidency. Aged 57, he cited his age in 2029, the date of the next presidential election, in a recording of his remarks to which AFP had access. “I am 57 years old and the retirement age is 65 [in Liberia]. In six years I will be 63 and I will only be able to work for two years,” he said.