Joseph Nyumah Boakai, Liberia’s main opposition leader and now president-elect, has emerged victorious in the country’s hotly contested 2023 presidential election, according to the official declaration by the National Elections Commission (NEC) Monday.
With 100 percent of the votes from all 5,890 polling places across Liberia’s 15 counties counted, Boakai, the candidate of the opposition Unity Party and former vice president of the West African country, garnered 814,481 votes, or 50.64 percent of the vote, compared with 793,914, or 49.36 percent, for incumbent President George Weah, the leader of the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change party, the NEC said.
Boakai and Weah entered a presidential runoff election that took place on Nov. 14, after the initial polls held on Oct. 10 failed to produce a clear winner among 20 candidates.
Born in the remote village of Worsonga in Foya, the most populous district of Lofa County in the northernmost part of Liberia on Nov. 30, 1944, Boakai, from the Kissi ethnic group, has a rich background in public service and a distinguished career that spans several decades.
Before his successful bid for the presidency, he served as vice president from 2006 to 2018 under the administration of former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Africa’s first elected woman president.
Boakai’s experience and dedication to public service over the years have earned him widespread respect among Liberians.
A Business Administration graduate from the University of Liberia in 1972, his political career commenced when he joined the Ministry of Agriculture, progressing through various positions until he attained the rank of minister in 1983.
“His commitment to agricultural development and rural empowerment became evident during his tenure, setting the foundation for his later advocacy for economic growth and social progress,” Lawrence Dunn, a Monrovia-based international political analyst, told Xinhua in an interview.
Boakai chaired boards of more than 20 agricultural development projects in Liberia, the Agricultural Cooperative Development Bank, and support institutions. The president-elect also served as resident manager of the Liberia Produce Marketing Corporation and managing director of the Liberia Petroleum Refinery Company.
Over the years, Boakai has been an advocate for unity and reconciliation in Liberia, emphasizing the importance of “healing the wounds of the past civil conflicts,” Dunn said, noting his vision for a harmonious and prosperous Liberia has resonated with many citizens, and this played a crucial role in his presidential campaign.
During the presidential campaign, Boakai focused on key issues such as good governance, poverty reduction, social justice, economic development, healthcare, education and infrastructure. His promises to address these pressing concerns captured the hearts and minds of the Liberian people, leading to a groundswell of support that ultimately secured his victory.
He also emphasized the need to address corruption and strengthen institutions for a more prosperous Liberia.
As Liberia’s president-elect, Boakai now faces the formidable task of steering the nation toward stability and growth.
“His administration will likely prioritize efforts to boost the economy, invest in education and healthcare, and foster unity among the diverse population,” Dunn said.
“As Boakai prepares to assume the highest office in the land, the eyes of the nation and the world are on Liberia, anticipating positive changes and progress under his leadership. The journey ahead will undoubtedly be challenging, but Boakai’s experience, vision, and commitment to the people position him as a beacon of hope for a brighter future in Liberia.”