Joseph Boakai secuered 50.89 to defeat incumbent George Weah. Photo. Reuters

Liberia's President George Weah has conceded defeat to rival Joseph Boakai, a former vice president, in a tightly contested runoff election in Liberia.

Boakai won 50.89% of the vote with nearly 99.58% of polling stations counted, according to results from the November 14 election that was announced by Electoral Commission Chairperson Davidetta Browne Lansanah on Friday. Weah received 49.11% of the vote.

“The results announced tonight, though not final, indicate that Amb. Joseph Boakai is in a lead that we cannot surpass. Therefore, a few minutes ago, I spoke with President-elect Joseph Boakai to congratulate him on his victory,” Weah told the nation.

“As we acknowledge the results, let us also recognise that the true winners of this election are the people of Liberia,” he said.

“You have once again demonstrated your commitment to the democratic principles that bind us together as a nation. The Liberian people have spoken and we have heard their voice,” he added.

Common ground

Weah acknowledged that the tight race revealed deep divisions within the country.

“As we transition to a new administration, we must be vigilant to the dangers of division, and must work together to find common ground. Now, more than ever, unity is paramount for the love of Mama Liberia,” he said,

The runoff was conducted after none of the candidates were able to secure more than 50% mark needed to win the first round of voting October.10.

In that first round, Weah garnered 43.83% of the vote while Boakai, from the opposition Unity Party, won 43.44%.

Weah, a football legend, has been in office since January 2018 after defeating Boakai in 2017 elections. He is due to step down in January 2024.

Government of inclusion

Boakai, 78, rallied opposition political parties to support him “to redeem the nation from a failed administration led by President Weah.”

Boakai served as vice president from 2006 to 2018 under former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.

He promised to form a government of inclusion that truly reflects the political, social and religious diversity of the citizens.

The two competed in the second round of voting in the 2017 election in which Boakai trailed Weah in the first round. Weah, 57, won 60% in the 2017 second-round vote.

TRT Afrika and agencies