Liberia inaugurated its new President, Joseph Boakai, on Monday following his narrow victory in the November election. At 79, Boakai becomes the country’s oldest president, assuming the role with a pledge to unite the nation and address its economic challenges.
In his inaugural address in Monrovia, Boakai emphasised the importance of unity in building a nation, outlining key priorities such as improving adherence to the rule of law, fighting corruption, and renewing hope among citizens.
However, the ceremony took an unexpected turn as President Boakai, dressed in traditional Liberian attire, began to show signs of physical distress while speaking. The event was cut short, and officials led him away from the podium. A spokesperson for Boakai’s political party attributed the incident to heat-related weakness, asserting that it had no connection to the president’s health.
President Boakai has consistently dismissed concerns about his age, highlighting the experience and achievements that come with it, which he believes will benefit the country. He secured victory in a closely contested run-off election, defeating Liberia’s youngest-ever president, George Weah.
Weah’s popularity, stemming from his status as a soccer legend turned politician, had declined as he approached the end of his first six-year term. Critics accused him of failing to fulfil campaign promises related to revitalising Liberia’s economy, combating corruption, and ensuring justice for victims of the country’s civil wars between 1989 and 2003. Boakai’s administration is now tasked with addressing these challenges and steering Liberia towards economic recovery and stability.