Liberia’s incumbent president and football legend, George Weah, conceded defeat on Friday evening after nearly complete returns showed opposition leader, Joseph Boakai, leading with 50.89 per cent of the vote.
“Ladies and gentlemen, tonight the CDC (party) has lost the election, but Liberia has won. This is the time for graciousness in defeat, to put national interest above personal interest,” he said in a speech on national radio.
Results published by the electoral commission after tallying the ballots from more than 99 per cent of polling stations gave Weah 49.11 per cent of the votes cast.
The 78-year-old Boakai beat Weah by just over 28,000 votes.
Weah said he had spoken to Boakai “to congratulate him on his victory”.
“The Liberian people have spoken, and we have heard their voice. However, the closeness of the results reveals a deep division within our country,” Weah said in his speech.
Around 2.4 million Liberians were eligible to vote on Tuesday, but no turnout figures have been released.
Dozens of Boakai’s supporters danced in celebration outside one of his party’s offices in the capital Monrovia.
The elections were the first since the United Nations in 2018 ended its peacekeeping mission, created after more than 250,000 people died in two civil wars in Liberia between 1989 and 2003.