Boakai concedes defeat to George Weah in Liberia vote

December 29, 2017, 6:14 pm

Liberia's Vice President Joseph Boakai has conceded defeat in the country's presidential election and congratulated his opponent, George Weah.

In a speech to his supporters on Friday, the Unity Party candidate said he had spoken to Weah on the phone and offered him "a hand of goodwill, friendship and gratitude" as he accepted the provisional election results.

"Although we worked so seriously for a different outcome than what [the] results show, my faith, values and principles dictate that I respect the will of the people as announced by the National Elections Commission," Boakai said.

He called on his supporters to put the election behind them and "push this nation to its rightful place within the community of nations".

"Let us continue to work even harder to promote reconciliation," Boakai said.

Weah, a former football star and senator from the Congress for Democratic Change party, won more than 61 percent of the vote with 98 percent of ballots counted, according to Liberia's National Elections Commission (NEC).

An official with the NEC told Al Jazeera the final vote tally would be released as early as Friday.

Weah, a former AC Milan striker, has already started receiving messages of congratulations from international leaders.

In a tweet, French President Emmanuel Macron said: "Congratulations to George Weah for his brilliant election and the people of Liberia for going down the path towards peace and reconciliation."

Weah responded: "I am honoured to join a new generation of heads of state. We have a lot to do to accelerate the construction of Africa's future."

Outgoing President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, who is at the end of her second six-year term, will transfer power to Weah in the nation's first democratic transition since 1944.

Sirleaf's tenure as Liberia's president ended decades of conflict and civil war in the African nation.

Liberia is one of the poorest countries in the world with 80 percent of the population living on less than $1.25 a day.