Joseph Boakai defeated President George Weah in Liberia's election runoff last week / Photo: Reuters

Joseph Boakai has been sworn in as Liberia's president on Monday following his election victory over incumbent President George Weah, with the challenge of tackling the country's economic challenges.

The 79-year-old narrowly beat former football star Weah in November's run-off poll with 50.64 percent of the votes to 49.36 percent.

The election was widely hailed as a significant symbol of democratic process after incumbent Wear conceded defeat and congratulated Boakai.

Boakai's swearing in for a six-year term took place at a ceremony in parliament in the capital Monrovia in the presence of several foreign leaders and diplomatic delegations.

Peaceful election

Boakai has 40 years of political experience already behind him.

He was vice-president from 2006 to 2018 under Liberia's first woman president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, before being soundly beaten by Weah in the 2017 election.

November's poll in the West African country was peaceful in a region that has seen a succession of military coups in recent years in Mali, Burkina Faso, Guinea and Niger.

But the nation of five million has been plagued with corruption, high levels of poverty and a weak justice system, after years of civil war and a devastating Ebola outbreak.

Given his long career in politics, Liberians expect Boakai to create jobs, improve the economy, strengthen institutions and fight corruption -- which was one of his key campaign pledges.

"Expectations of Boakai's presidency are high," Larry Nyanquoi, a former local official in Nimba County, told AFP.

Boakai is "seen as somebody who has not engaged in corruption and one who has tried to live the simplest possible life."

Liberians also expect Boakai to ensure a stable supply of electricity and water, and to improve the road infrastructure to attract investment, Nyanquoi said.

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