MONROVIA: The two—Ambassador Joseph N. Boakai and Ambassador George M. Weah, residents of Rehab Community in Paynesville—have been political archrivals for quite a while. As Vice Standard Bearer of the Unity Party, Boakai was, along with ex-President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, challenged by Congress for Democratic Change Standard Bearer George Weah in 2005. Both men, on the ballot as Vice President Standard Bearers for their respective parties, again clashed politically in the campaign of 2011. In both elections, Boakai’s UP won. Then came the big one in 2017 when the two men met face to face as Standard Bearers of their parties. Others called it a clash of titans. This time, Weah won. Six years after, in 2023, the Rehab Community men faced off again. And this time around, Boakai won. What is dramatic and relatively stunning is the graciousness in defeat demonstrated by incumbent President Weah, accepting the elections’ results without being fully announced by the NEC. And the winner is not taking this political magnanimity lightly. In his first major victory speech, President-elect Boakai was also kind enough to acknowledge Weah’s extraordinary acceptance of his defeat. The Analyst reports.
Liberia’s President Elect Joseph Nyumah Boakai has delivered his first major statement to the nation since the announcement of results of the runoff elections held November 14, thanking Liberians for conducting themselves peacefully during the electoral process.
The Incoming President’s first speech started with commendations for Outgoing President George Manneh Weah who, he said, was gracious in accepting the results of the closely contested elections.
Following words of salutations, President-elect Boakai straightly began with how President Weah called him to concede.
He said: “On November 17th, 2023, I received a call from President George Manneh Weah to congratulate me. I want to thank him for being gracious in his concession, after what will go down as one of the most closely contested elections in Liberia’s political history.”
The former Liberian Vice President acknowledged that President Weah and his Coalition for Democratic Change fought hard “but there can only be one winner in an election.”
Boakai, who had contested against Weah since 2005, won the runoff with barely 20,000 vote margin.
While counting of ballots was still ongoing, President Weah picked up his phone and rang in political foe of 18 years to concede defeat, a move wildly hailed by national and international stakeholders.
“Liberia by this democratic tradition,” said Ambassador Boakai, “is a new model to the world.”
Change Begins Now
President-elect Boakai also took up time to thank the people of Liberian for conducting themselves peacefully during the tense electoral period, particularly for voting him president of Liberia.
“You, the people of Liberia, have spoken, and words are inadequate to express my feelings of gratitude to you,” Ambassador Boakai said.
“You have placed your trust in me to lead with the demand for the change you want,” he said “And that change begins now!”
“I call on all Liberians to join hands to exploit the full potential of a country of promise. We must join in the transformation that will lift our people from the many economic and social inequities, and the injustices they have been subjected to for many years.”
Commendations to Special People
Acknowledging God’s grace in granting him the opportunity to serve his country, for “for giving me strength, good health, fortitude, and wisdom on this journey,” the President-elect also hailed his family, especially Kartumu, his wife of over fifty years, and his children and other extended family relations, friends, and colleagues who stood with him “through thick and thin”.
“To my running mate and Vice President-elect, Jeremiah Koung, I thank you. For you stood by me and fought a good fight,” he said, adding: “My appreciation goes to the Chairperson and members of the campaign team, as well as the many men, women, and young people across the country and in the Diaspora, who rode the “Rescue Train” on this great journey of national renewal.
“To those who initiated and advocated for protection of the votes and to the professionals and technicians who set up and manned the infrastructure to protect the votes of the people, I am doubly thankful for your dedication, commitment, and hard work.”
Ambassador also thanked members of the great Unity Party Alliance and other political parties and their leaders who endorsed his candidature.
“You will be remembered for placing Liberia above personal ambition and interest. I salute your patriotism!”
He also extended commendations to the International Community (United States, European Union and the diplomatic community) for accompanying Liberia on the electoral journey.
“We praise our regional compatriots from the African Union, ECOWAS, Mano River Union for demonstrating true solidarity. You prove that a universal ideal can be achieved with collective determination,” he said further.
“I believe these elections were a watershed moment in the history of Liberia for two reasons. First, it demonstrated the power of the Liberian people and their commitment to the democratic process no matter where threats came from,” he asserted. “Second, these elections showed the progress we have made since the end of the war to maintain our peace and consolidate the foundations of multiparty democracy.”
He noted that Liberia has “signaled to the region and the world at large that we will be a great example of a working democracy that many will emulate.”
The UP Political Leader further stated: “The elections are now over and we must come together as one people to rebuild our country. There are no green Liberians or blue Liberians, no western Liberians or southeastern Liberians, or north central Liberians or southern Liberians.
“There is only one Liberia, citizens of the oldest republic in Africa! All of us have won. What has happened in our democracy over the last 4 days is a win for Liberia, and will be a legacy for us as a people and marked in posterity forever. We will no longer be known for war, but for the peace that has prevailed in our country.”
He called on Liberians to embrace each other, be magnanimous in victory and gracious in defeat.
“Politics should not define us,” he urged. “What should define us is our collective resolve to transform our country for the good of everyone including future generations.”
He promised to extend development across this country including building the roads of our beautiful region of southeastern Liberia, which for years has suffered the fate of rural neglect.
“So, I implore all Liberians, irrespective of their ethnic background, county, religion, and political party affiliations to join us on this journey to rescue our country,” he added.
He said the hard work to rebuild starts now, indicating that the challenges of the country must be confronted immediately and head-on to create an equal future for all Liberians and succeeding generations.
The President elect said: “We must leave no stone unturned to address and remove the economic, social, and political disparities that undermine our potential. Our country is not poor; the problem with our country is bad leadership in all facets of society including the institutions of the state.”
He further noted that he would lead by example.
“I promise a Liberia that will benefit all Liberians. The Liberian state will no longer be used as a predatory tool by and for a few to the detriment of the majority of the people. We will promote broad participation of the people, including those in rural communities, in the decision-making process.
“To you the people of Liberia, you have spoken loud and clear and I have heard you. We will establish a responsible and accountable government. We will address the major problem of corruption in government especially in high places.
“In this regard, I will announce a transitional team in the next few days to work on a transitional plan. We will start working immediately with the outgoing government for a smooth and peaceful transition. We will work with the current administration to assess the current state of affairs, determine the necessary actions to respond to challenges, build on any progress, and prevent any disruptions to a smooth and successful transition.”