Winds of Change
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Liberian opposition leader Joseph Boakai won the country’s presidential runoff Saturday, following a tightly-contested election amid economic woes and fears of post-election violence, Agence France-Presse reported.
With nearly all votes counted, results showed Boakai gained nearly 51 percent of the vote, while his opponent, incumbent George Weah, secured a little more than 49 percent. Voter turnout was around 66 percent, according to election officials.
The two candidates finished neck-and-neck in the first round last month, with a national lead of just 7,126 votes for Weah.
On Friday, Weah conceded defeat to Boakai, saying it was “time to put national interest above personal interest.”
His announcement received international praise because it marked the second peaceful transfer of power in the West African nation, which has seen civil wars and previous leaders killed in office, according to CNN.
While there were a few instances of violence during campaigning and voting, international observers said the election was “largely” peaceful.
Analysts noted that the election was also seen as a referendum on Weah: The former international soccer star was elected in 2018, sparking high hopes of change in Liberia, which was still reeling from two civil conflicts between 1989 and 2003 and the 2014-2016 Ebola epidemic.
But critics have accused the outgoing leader of corruption and mishandling the economy.
Liberia is one of the poorest countries in the world, with more than a fifth of the population living on barely more than $2 a day, according to the World Bank.