The outgoing President of Liberia, George Weah has been praised by several stakeholder over his sportsmanship for conceding to his rival in the presidential race – from across the political divide and the region.
The former football star, who has served as Liberia’s president since 2018, said; ‘This is a time for graciousness in defeat, a time to place our country above party, and patriotism above personal interest’.
Africa Today News, New York reports that the 57-year-old’s phone call to congratulate Joseph Boakai on Friday night has saved the country, which has a history of brutal civil conflict, from a weekend of tension.
‘These are great times in Liberia and in Africa because such action on the part of a sitting president is very very very rare,’ Liberian human rights advocate Hassan Bility told the reporters.
He is the director of the Global Justice and Research Project (GJRP), which has been documenting evidence of war crimes committed during two civil wars, in which an estimated 250,000 died.
For him, Mr Weah’s concession in the second round – three days before the official results are due to be announced – was not only the action of a great sportsman but “a high mark of statesmanship and peace”.
The president has 49.11% of the vote so far from the results of 99.58% of polling stations.
Mr Weah’s special aide, Sekou Kalasco Jomanday, said his move did not come as a surprise.
“That is the kind of person he is, he’s a man of peace – he’s a man who believes the will of the people should always be respected and he will continue to do that,” he told the newsmen.
“The president doesn’t believe that one person should lose their life because of any political struggle or one man’s quest to be president by all costs.”
Liberian political analyst Abdullah Kiatamba said Mr Weah had looked at the figures and realised his pathway to victory was “almost impossible”.
“I think this is a victory for Liberian democracy… for an incumbent to concede is a testament to the maturity of our democracy,” he told the BBC.
The elections are the first since the exit of UN peacekeepers who were deployed after the official end of the civil wars in 2003.
Ecowas has been at the forefront of efforts to bring stability to Liberia – at one stage sending up to 12,000 soldiers to the country in the 1990s, with Nigeria troops forming the backbone of a peacekeeping force known as Ecomog.