By Bill W. Cooper
Former Vice president, Joseph Nyuma Boakai, has made history after emerging as the president-elect of Liberia, following a heavily contested race between him and incumbent President George M. Weah.
On Tuesday October 10, President Weah and former VP Boakai, as well as 18 other candidates, battled it out for the country’s Presidency, but none of the candidates was able to obtain an outright majority of the total votes cast (50 percent plus one).
As a result, the National Elections Commission (NEC) then declared a run-off election between Weah and Boakai, who both got the highest number of votes during the October 10 polls. The run-off was held on November 14, 2023.
But with over 99 percent and 5,889 of the total 5,890 polling places across the country announced, Boakai, 79, has obtained 814,428 votes, amounting to 50.64 percent, compared to Weah’s 793,910 votes, constituting 49.36 percent, with a margin of 20,718 votes.
Boakai who served as Vice president to former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf for 12 years, with over 40 years of experience in the public sector’s win is historic, becoming the second presidential candidate in Liberia to return a former ruling party to power since 1878, when former President Anthony W. Gardiner did so with the True Whig Party (TWP).
President Weah’s loss is also an historic one, becoming the first president in Liberia’s history to fail in his re-election bid, as his defeat comes six years after he won against Boakai in the 2017 run-off, securing a decisive win with 61.5 percent to 38.5 percent.
As of Sunday, the bulk of Boakai’s votes came from Nimba, where his running mate, Senator Jeremiah Koung, hails from, with strong support from former warlord Senator Prince Y. Johnson.
In Nimba, the second most populated county in the country, the NEC has released results from 735 of 736 (99.86 percent) polling places. Out of the total of 307, 254 registered voters, Boakai has obtained 144,593 votes (74.13 percent), while Weah trails with 50,449 votes (25.87 percent).
Boakai also has a stronghold in Lofa, the third most populated county and where he hails from, getting 75,373 votes (64.6%), while Weah got 41,298 votes (35.4%) from all 424 polling places in the county.
In Montserrado, the county with the highest number of voters, also known to be the stronghold of President Weah, of the 2008 of 2008 polling places announced by the NEC, Boakai got 336,821 votes, equaling to 51.74 percent, while Weah got 314,188 votes, amounting to 48.26 percent.
On the other hand, the Liberian leader came out strong in the southeastern region, following an overwhelming support of its constituents, despite its small population.
For instance, in Grand Gedeh County, of the 163 of 163 polling places, Weah got 39,212 votes, equaling 90.29 percent, compared to Boakai’s 4,218 votes, amounting to 9.71 percent.
In Maryland, Weah got 35,355 votes, constituting 83.36 percent, with Boakai obtaining 7,057 votes, amounting to 16.64 percent from 175 of 175 polling places.
For Grand Kru, Weah got 29,143 votes, equal to 91.69 percent, while Boakai got 2,641 votes, equal to 8.31 percent, from 110 of 110 polling places.
Rivergee County was also gracious to Weah in 98 of 98 polling places, as Weah got 18,906 votes, representing 80.14 percent, while Boakai trailed with 4,686 – 19.86 percent. Sinoe County followed the same trend: President Weah got 26,860 votes (83.38 percent), and Boakai got 5,354 votes (16.62 percent).
Rivercess County also gave Weah a push with 15,559 votes (74.88 percent), while Boakai followed with 5,220 votes (25.12 percent) from 105 of 105 polling places. Grand Bassa County was competitive, with Weah obtaining 43,911 votes (54.39 percent) and Boakai getting 36,816 votes (45.61 percent) from 405 of 405 Polling Places.
In Margibi, reporting from all 441 polling places, Boakai topped with 64,160 votes (53.99 percent), while President Weah came close with 54,676 votes (46.01 percent), while Bong County, the home of current Vice President Jewel Howard Taylor, also reported from all 555 polling places, giving President Weah the lead there with 72,159 votes (52.92 percent), but Boakai came close with 64,194 votes (47.08 percent).
Boakai won Cape Mount County with 24,374 votes (52.04 percent), as Weah followed closely with 22,465 votes (47.96 percent) from 213 of 213 polling places; and Bomi County, reporting from all 171 polling places, gave Boakai 23,359 votes, which is 59.62 percent of the total votes, while Weah got 15,820 (40.38 percent).
Gbarpolu County, reporting from 134 of 134 polling places, saw Boakai obtaining 15,562 votes (52.8 percent) and Weah, 13,909 votes (47.2 percent).
Meanwhile, Boakai’s victory comes as a momentous achievement, not only for himself but for his supporters and the country as a whole, and having demonstrated determination and unwavering commitment to serving his citizens, Boakai has managed to secure the majority vote and solidify his position as Liberia’s next leader.
Throughout the election campaign, Boakai spoke on critical issues and challenges faced by the country, including economic stability, infrastructure development, and social welfare.
As the election day itself was marked by high voter turnout in first round, coupled with a slow voter turnout in the runoff and a peaceful electoral process, Liberians from all walks of life braved the long queues and queues to exercise their democratic right to vote, showcasing their determination to shape the future of Liberia.
With the final results expected to be announced today, citizens and supporters of the Unity Party (UP) and Joseph Boakai are eagerly awaiting the moment to celebrate their victory, with an atmosphere filled with anticipation and hope.
Furthermore, Boakai’s victory now means that Liberia enters a new era of leadership, brimming with expectations and aspirations. His administration will face the formidable task of addressing various challenges, such as poverty, corruption, and the consolidation of peace and stability.
As the nation moves forward under Boakai’s leadership, it is hoped that his tenure will be defined by inclusive governance, economic growth, and the progressive realization of the aspirations of Liberians.
Additionally, the international communities have all assured of their commitment to closely watch the transition of power, offering support and assistance to ensure a smooth and prosperous future for Liberia.