President George Weah conceded defeat Friday to rival Joseph Boakai, a former vice president, in a tightly contested runoff election in Liberia.
Boakai won 50.89% of the vote with nearly 99.58% of polling stations counted, according to results from the Nov. 14 election that was announced by Electoral Commission Chairperson Davidetta Browne Lansanah.
Weah received 49.11% of the vote.
“The results announced tonight, though not final, indicate that Amb. Joseph Boakai is in a lead that we cannot surpass. Therefore, a few minutes ago, I spoke with President-elect Joseph Boakai to congratulate him on his victory,” Weah told the nation.
“As we acknowledge the results, let us also recognize that the true winners of this election are the people of Liberia,” he said. “You have once again demonstrated your commitment to the democratic principles that bind us together as a nation. The Liberian people have spoken and we have heard their voice.”
Weah acknowledged that the tight race revealed deep divisions within the country.
“As we transition to a new administration, we must be vigilant to the dangers of division, and must work together to find common ground. Now, more than ever, unity is paramount for the love of Mama Liberia,” he said,
Earlier Friday, the electoral body had not declared a winner after disregarding results from 25 polling stations.
New voting had been rescheduled at those stations for Saturday.
The runoff was conducted after none of the candidates were able to reach the 50+1 mark needed to win the first round of voting Oct.10.
In that first round, Weah garnered 43.83% of the vote while Boakai, from the opposition Unity Party, won 43.44%.
Weah, a football legend, had been in office since January 2018, ruling for six years.
Boakai, 78, rallied opposition political parties to support him “to redeem the nation from a failed administration led by President Weah.”
Boakai served as vice president from 2006 to 2018 under former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.
He promised to form a government of inclusion that truly reflects the political, social and religious diversity of the citizens.
The two competed in the second round of voting in the 2017 election in which Boakai trailed Weah in the first round.
Weah, 57, won 60% in the 2017 second-round vote.