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Liberia: Joseph Boakai sworn in as new president, stirs concern over his state of health

Joseph Boakai   -  
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Liberia’s new president, Joseph Boakai, was sworn into office Monday after his narrow win in the November 2023 election.

Boakai, who at age 79 has become the country's oldest president, promised to unite and rescue Africa’s oldest republic from its economic woes.

"Only united people can build a nation. And where do we plan to take Liberia in the next six years? We must refocus our political energy." Boakai told citizens and foreign delegation members who attended his inauguration ceremony in Monrovia, Liberia's capital.

He listed improving adherence to the rule of law, fighting corruption and renewing the hope of citizens as his priorities.

The ceremony, however, ended abruptly after Boakai, who wore traditional Liberian attire for the occasion, began to show signs of physical distress while speaking.

Officials led him away from the podium after he unsuccessfully tried to continue his address.

A spokesperson for Boakai's political party said the president's weakness was caused by heat and had nothing to do with his health.

Boakai has dismissed concerns about his age, arguing that it came with a wealth of experience and achievements that would benefit the country.

He won a tight run-off election to defeat Liberia’s youngest-ever president, George Weah.

Public goodwill toward soccer legend-turned-politician Weah waned as he neared the end of his first six-year term.

Critics accused him of not fulfilling campaign promises to fix Liberia's ailing economy, stamp out corruption and to ensure justice for victims of the country’s back-to-back civil wars between 1989 and 2003.

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