In a significant political shift, Joseph Boakai, aged 79 and with four decades of political experience, has officially been sworn in as the new President of Liberia. Boakai secured his position after winning a closely contested run-off poll against former football star and Ballon d’Or winner George Weah, with a narrow victory margin.
The swearing-in ceremony took place in the nation’s parliament and was attended by prominent figures, including Ghanaian President Nana Akufo-Addo and US Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield.
Boakai, who served as vice president from 2006 to 2018 under Liberia’s first female president, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, now faces the challenging task of addressing issues such as poverty, corruption, and a weak justice system in the country of five million people. Liberia has struggled with these challenges for years, compounded by a history of civil war and an Ebola outbreak.
One of the pressing issues in Liberia is the challenge of impunity related to crimes committed during the civil wars. Boakai’s election campaign saw him aligning with local power brokers, including former warlord Prince Johnson, who shifted his support from Weah in 2017 to Boakai in the recent election. Johnson, a controversial figure under US sanctions, has been appointed to nominate Jeremiah Koung as the vice president.
Despite the complex political landscape, the November election in Liberia was marked by its peaceful conduct, standing out in a region troubled by military coups. Liberians now look to President Boakai with expectations that he will fulfill his campaign promises of job creation, economic improvement, institutional strengthening, and the fight against corruption.
Given Boakai’s extensive political career, spanning several decades, there are high hopes for significant progress in critical areas that have long plagued the nation. As he takes on the presidency, Boakai’s leadership will be closely watched as he navigates the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead for Liberia.