Who is Liberia's President-Elect Joseph Boakai?
© AP Photo / Rami MalekOpposition candidate Joseph Boakai arrives to vote in the second round of presidential elections in Monrovia, Liberia, Tuesday, Nov. 14, 2023.
© AP Photo / Rami Malek
Liberia's former Vice President Joseph Boakai has won the country's presidential election, according to the final results released by the country's National Elections Commission (NEC) on Friday.
Boakai, who ran for the Unity Party (UP), defeated incumbent President George Weah, who ran for the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC), in a runoff election held on November 14.
According to the NEC, Boakai received 50.64% of the vote, while Weah received 49.36%. Voter turnout was 55.8%, down from 64.8% in the first round. The electoral body said the vote was free, fair and transparent, with no major irregularities or complaints.
Weah, a former football star, conceded defeat and congratulated Boakai on his victory. He also called for national unity and cooperation and pledged to work with the new government to ensure a smooth transition.
This is the third peaceful transfer of power in Liberia since the end of the civil war in 2003. The election was seen as a test of the country's democracy and stability, as well as a reflection of public satisfaction with Weah's performance in his first term.
Who is Boakai?
Joseph Boakai is a veteran Liberian politician who has held various positions in the public and private sectors. He was born on November 30, 1944, in the village of Worsonga in Lofa County to a family of farmers.
He graduated from one of the country's most prestigious high schools, the College of West Africa (CWA) in Monrovia, the country's capital and largest city. Boakai holds a Bachelor of Business Administration degree from the University of Liberia in 1972. He received a scholarship from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID)and graduated from the University of Kansas (US) in 1976.
Boakai began his career as a manager for the Liberia Product Marketing Corporation (LPMC), a state-owned agricultural commodities company. He later became the Managing Director of LPMC, the first Liberian to hold that position. He also served as Minister of Agriculture, Managing Director of the Liberia Petroleum Refining Corporation (LPRC), and as a consultant to the World Bank.
The 78-year-old Liberian entered politics in 2006, when he was elected as the Vice President of Liberia under President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. He served in that position for 12 years, until 2018. He has also served as the President of the Liberian Senate, and the chairperson of the Africa Rice Center (AfricaRice), a regional research organization formerly known as the West Africa Rice Development Association (WARDA).
The veteran politician ran for president in 2017, but lost to Weah in the runoff. He ran again in 2023 and won this time. At the age of 78, he is the oldest person to be elected president of Liberia.
Boakai is married to Katumu Yatta and has four children. He is a philanthropist and humanitarian who has established a foundation that supports agricultural production, food security, health care, educational programs, youth and gender development, and poverty alleviation in the country.
Boakai's Campaign Promises
Some of his specific campaign promises are:
To restore the country’s image and reputation, both at home and abroad, by promoting good governance, transparency, accountability, and the rule of law
To develop the country’s infrastructure, such as roads, bridges, electricity, water, and sanitation, to facilitate trade, commerce, and social services.
To invest in agriculture, which is the main source of livelihood for most Liberians, by providing farmers with access to credit, inputs, technology, and markets.
To diversify the economy and create jobs, by attracting investors, supporting small and medium enterprises, and promoting Liberia as a tourist destination.
To improve the quality of education and healthcare, by increasing funding, training, and supervision for teachers and healthcare workers, and by expanding access and affordability for students and patients.
To empower women and youth, by ensuring their participation and representation in decision-making, and by providing them with opportunities and skills for economic and social development.
To foster national unity and reconciliation, by respecting the diversity and dignity of all Liberians, and by ensuring justice and healing for the victims of conflict.
The president-elect has said his vision is to transform Liberia into a prosperous and peaceful nation where all citizens can enjoy their rights and freedoms, and where government serves the public interest.
Boakai will be Liberia's 25th president and the first from the Unity Party since Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, who was Africa's first elected female president. He will be inaugurated on January 22, 2024 for a six-year term.