Veteran Liberian politician Joseph Boakai was officially declared the winner of the presidential election on Monday against outgoing George Weah, whose elegance in accepting defeat was praised on the continent.
Mr. Boakai, 78, will take charge of this English-speaking country of around five million inhabitants, one of the poorest in the world, for six years.
Monday evening, a few hours after the announcement of his victory, a car drove into a crowd of supporters of the elected president, causing at least ten victims, deaths according to the Unity Party - Mr Boakai's political party -, injured according to the police.
According to a police official, Melvin Sacko, the vehicle drove into the gathered people and caught fire. “The investigation is still ongoing,” he said. Videos posted on social media show many bloodied people lying on the ground, some receiving assistance, others limp.
Silence of Boakai
Mr Boakai won with 50.64% of the votes, against 49.36% of votes for Mr Weah, Davidetta Browne Lansanah, president of the Electoral Commission (NEC), announced to the press on Monday after counting all votes. the ballot papers.
An old hand in politics, Mr. Boakai was from 2006 to 2018 the vice-president of Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the first female head of state in Africa. He has held numerous positions within the State and the private sector.
He, who is only ahead of Mr. Weah by 20,567 votes out of just over 1.6 million voters, has remained strangely silent until now, while his supporters have been celebrating across the country since Friday.
Mr. Weah, elected in 2017, recognized his opponent's victory on Friday evening given the almost final results, attracting praise from abroad for thus promoting a non-violent transfer of power.
“Our time will come again,” said the 57-year-old former football star, whose intentions after the official end of his presidency in January 2024 remain unknown.
Beyond the choice of the person called to lead this country in search of stability after the years of civil war and the Ebola epidemic, one of the challenges of the election was the peaceful and regular conduct of the vote. As well as the acceptance of the results, while democracy in West Africa has been battered in recent years by a succession of coups d'état ( Mali, Burkina , Guinea, Niger ).
The president of the electoral commission, however, indicated that the latter had received two appeals from Mr. Weah's party on Friday against the conduct of the election in Nimba county (east). The commission has 30 days to investigate and make a decision, she added.
The African Union (AU) "congratulated" Monday Joseph Boakai on his election and praised George Weah 's "sense of statehood", also inviting "all parties to continue to demonstrate maturity and engage in dialogue to consolidate democracy.
“Liberians have demonstrated once again that democracy is alive in the ECOWAS region and that change through peaceful means is possible,” the Economic Community of African States welcomed in a press release. West, at the forefront of the abrupt regime changes since 2020.
In Washington, Joe Biden also congratulated Joseph Boakai for winning a “free and fair” presidential election. “ I also want to salute (outgoing President) George Weah for respecting the will of the people and putting patriotism before political calculation,” the American president further commented in a press release.
Several presidential elections are planned in 2024 in West Africa, Senegal, Ghana (ECOWAS members), Mauritania, theoretically in Mali and Burkina Faso, led by the military.
This election was the first organized without the presence of the United Nations mission in Liberia created in 2003 (and left in 2018) to guarantee peace after civil wars.
Clashes during the campaign left several dead. Incidents were reported between the two rounds, raising fears of a turbulent aftermath of the election, especially in the event of a close outcome.
The vote was followed by numerous foreign and Liberian observers, and European Union and ECOWAS missions welcomed the generally peaceful conduct of the second round.
The election took place 20 years after the end of the civil wars in Liberia, which left more than 250,000 dead between 1989 and 2003 and whose memory remains vivid. The shadow of this bloody history fueled the concern, which Mr. Weah largely dispelled on Friday by bowing to Mr. Boakai.